Tag: countering vaccine hesitancy

Should Parents Be Concerned About Combination Vaccines and Febrile Seizures?

Anti-vaccine folks have parents worried about everything and anything having to do with vaccines these days.

Unlike most of the ideas that anti-vaxxers push, febrile seizures really can occur after vaccines. Fortunately, they aren’t something to be worried about.

Should Parents Be Concerned About Combination Vaccines and Febrile Seizures?

While febrile seizures can be scary, it is important to know that without other risk factors, kids who develop febrile seizures after a vaccine are at the same small risk for developing epilepsy as other kids.

And know that vaccines aren’t the only cause of febrile seizures. Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause both febrile seizures and more serious non-febrile seizures.

What about the extra risk of febrile seizures following combination vaccines?

“Studies have shown a small increased risk for febrile seizures during the 5 to 12 days after a child has received their first vaccination with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. The risk is slightly higher with the measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) combination vaccine, but the risk is still small. Studies have not shown an increased risk for febrile seizures after the separate varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.”

Childhood Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

The small extra risk of febrile seizures for the measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (MMRV) combination vaccine vs the separate MMR and chicken pox vaccines is just for the first dose of these vaccines, so pediatricians and parents might choose to give the separate vaccines instead. And only use this combination vaccine for the second dose.

Are any other combination vaccines a concern for febrile seizures?

Nope, even though some anti-vaccine sites push that idea and that vaccines can cause epilepsy.

Parents will likely be reassured by one of the studies that anti-vaccine folks like to cite, which states that “vaccination with DTaP-IPV-Hib was not associated with an increased risk of epilepsy.”

We do know that there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures when the influenza vaccine is given at the same time as either the Prevnar13 vaccine or the DTaP vaccine, although “the risk of febrile seizure with any combination of these vaccines is small and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend getting any of these vaccines on separate days.”

Is the risk really small though?

After all, an article by Sheri A Marino talks about a 6-fold extra risk in some cases.

Isn’t that a lot?

“Does this mean we should stop giving these vaccines together or stop giving them at all? We say, emphatically, no. With the results of this study, we can accurately calculate the risks and benefits of this practice. The risk is 1 febrile seizure per pediatric practice every 5 to 10 years. Febrile seizures, although frightening to parents, rarely have any long-term sequelae. The benefits of giving these vaccines simultaneously include decreased office visits associated with painful vaccines, decreased episodes of vaccine-associated fussiness, and, most important, the assurance that children will be fully immunized and protected from infections that carry real morbidity and mortality. It is well established that the vaccines we miss when we fail to give all the vaccines we can (simultaneously at each health care visit) may never be administered to some children, thus leaving them at risk for the diseases the vaccines prevent. It goes without saying that influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and pneumococcal infections may result in serious illness. These infections also have the potential to cause fevers and febrile seizures. Without vaccines to prevent these illnesses, pediatricians would see many more than 1 case of most of these infections each decade. In fact, they would see children in their practices with both febrile seizures and life-threatening infections. The risk from these diseases far outweighs the risk from the vaccines.”

Sawyer et al on Vaccines and Febrile Seizures: Quantifying the Risk

Because the risk of febrile seizures is so small, it remains small even with any extra risk.

What’s more concerning? The risks of following anti-vaccine propaganda and leaving your kids unvaccinated and unprotected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

More on Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We know that there will always be some folks who won’t vaccinate their kids.

“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 

Who are these people?

Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

We used to conveniently call them anti-vaccine, but that doesn’t really work.

Well, it still does, as long as you understand who you are talking about.

The thing is, the folks who don’t vaccinate their kids exist on a spectrum, from those who just need a little extra reassurance (the worrieds) or a lot of extra reassurance (parents who are on the fence or vaccine-hesitant), to vaccine refusers (will likely vaccinate during an outbreak, etc.) and deniers who likely aren’t vaccinating their kids in any circumstance and who might try to persuade others to avoid vaccines too – the vocal vaccine deniers.

So you don’t really want to bunch them all up one big anti-vaccine group, especially when you are typically talking about the vocal vaccine deniers, many of whom believe that they have a child who was injured or damaged by a vaccine.

We are still missing some folks though…

No, I’m not talking about those who like to claim that they are pro-safe vaccines, pro-choice vaccines, or vaccine skeptics, just because they don’t want to be labeled as being anti-vaccine.

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

We need to talk about the:

These are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Who's to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?
Who’s to blame for low immunization rates and continuing outbreaks?

Do you know who I’m talking about it? Have you noticed that these folks never seem to face any consequences?

Who else do we need to talk about?

I remember speaking with my mother about vaccines, and at one point in our discussion, she claimed a link existed between vaccines and autism. In response, I presented evidence from the CDC which claimed directly in large bold letters, “There is no link between vaccines and autism.” Within the same article from the CDC on their official website, extensive evidence and studies from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) were cited. Most would assume when confronted with such strong proof, there would be serious consideration that your views are incorrect. This was not the case for my mother, as her only response was, “that’s what they want you to think.”

Ethan Lindenberger

There are also the folks who are pushing an anti-science agenda, making you think that mainstream doctors are bad and that anything holistic and natural must be good. Until the damage these folks are doing is seriously addressed, it won’t matter if we get a few anti-vaccine folks off of Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest.

Learn to be more skeptical. Do real research. Vaccinate your kids.

More on Who’s Who in the Anti-Vaccine Movement – 2019 Edition

Vaccine Op-Eds

The Editorial Boards of the leading newspapers in the United States are making sure we know their views about vaccines and vaccine hesitancy.

One of the first vaccine op-eds appeared in The New York Times.

It started with The New York Times, but certainly didn’t end there.

Vaccine Op-Eds

In addition to two hearings before Congress, many other major newspapers have published vaccine editorials of their own.

“It’s no mystery how we got here. On the internet, anti-vaccine propaganda has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information. The anti-vaxxers, as they are colloquially known, have hundreds of websites promoting their message, a roster of tech- and media-savvy influencers and an aggressive political arm that includes at least a dozen political action committees. Defense against this onslaught has been meager. The C.D.C., the nation’s leading public health agency, has a website with accurate information, but no loud public voice. The United States Surgeon General’s office has been mum. So has the White House — and not just under the current administration. That leaves just a handful of academics who get bombarded with vitriol, including outright threats, every time they try to counter pseudoscience with fact.”

The New York Times on How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers

“The wretched pox is getting closer. We hope you and yours are vaccinated.”

Chicago Tribune on Major new study adds to our plea: Vaccinate your children against measles

“But a child with fragile health, whose doctor advises to delay vaccines for health reasons, could be in extreme danger in Washington state because so many parents use philosophical exemptions. Vulnerable children are much more likely to be exposed to measles than they should be because Washington allows parents to skip required immunizations based solely on their personal beliefs.”

The Seattle Times on End philosophical vaccine exemption

“We can get kids vaccinated, or we can be in danger together.”

Chicago Sun-Times on Measles, anti-vaccine myths and some advice for Illinois

“Treating a disease like measles and stopping its spread is an expensive proposition. Not to mention, it endangers those who can’t get vaccinated, including vulnerable newborns.”

The Baltimore Sun on It’s about time for a backlash against anti-vaxers

“Recent outbreaks underscore the risks of allowing nonmedical exemptions.”

USA Today on Measles outbreaks underscore risks of allowing nonmedical vaccination exemptions

“The point is, people who do not get vaccinated are threatening the whole population, and DeFoor’s letter is a reminder that failing to get vaccinated can have lifelong consequences.”

The Gainesville Sun on Anti-vaccine myths are dangerous

“The best solution, however, is for parents who are tempted to claim a religious exemption to look at the facts. If your fear of vaccines is based on information repeated in social media or by an anti-vaccine group, you need to try again. Look at medical studies or talk to your doctor.

The measles vaccine can save your child’s life, and it can save the lives of those who are medically unable to take the vaccine.”

Tuscaloosa News on Measles vaccine a must for your child and others

“This isn’t one of those scary epidemics in which the cause and solution are unclear. The cause is a reckless embrace of myth over scientific fact. The solution is vaccination.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Measles is back, thanks to misinformation and loopholes in vaccination rules.

“Yet the distrust of anti-vaxxer parents is a threat to everyone’s children and not just their own.”

The Guardian view on vaccination: a duty of public health

“The anti-vaxxers’ hypothesis rests largely on the shoulders of bunk science that has been discredited and disproven by a number of sources. But this hasn’t stopped their ideas from taking hold.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Preventable problems: Anti-vaxxers rely on bunk science

“We identify with parents’ desire to protect their children. But shunning proven vaccinations is making families and communities less healthy, not more so. We urge lawmakers to champion educational efforts to help parents understand that lesson before a major outbreak strikes here.”

Austin American Statesman on Austin’s anti-vaccination rate is nothing to brag about

After reading these Op-Eds, it is even more amazing to realize how far we have come from when the media used to be part of the problem.

Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”

Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t

It’s nice that they are advocating for vaccines and our children now.

More on Vaccine Op-Eds

Award Winning Vaccine Advocates

Many people advocate for vaccines.

They help scared parents understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

And then there are those people who go and above and beyond what everyone else does.

Awards Winning Vaccine Advocates

These are the vaccine advocates who win awards.

“Vaccines cannot speak for themselves; they need vocal advocates in every community in order to preserve their great contributions to healthier lives and healthier communities.”

William Schaffner, MD The winner of the 2017 NVPO Excellence in Vaccine Communication Award

Vaccine advocates who:

  • go above and beyond to foster vaccination in their communities
  • use creative or innovative strategies to promote vaccination or address challenges to vaccination in their practice, health system, community, state, or region
  • work to improve immunization rates for individuals 65 years of age and older in medically underserved communities

From parents and pediatricians, to pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, nurse practioners, and naturopathic primary care providers, etc., there are people advocating for vaccines everywhere.

More on Awards Winning Vaccine Advocates

Where Are All of the Vaccine Advocates?

With more outbreaks and increased talk of vaccine exemptions, one thing often gets lost.

Most people vaccinate and protect their kids because they understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

Where Are All of the Vaccine Advocates?

Unfortunately, unlike the highly vocal minority of folks who are against vaccines, we rarely hear from vaccine advocates.

There are a lot of them out there though.

And we are finally starting to hear more about them!

“One woman took four of her kids for the M.M.R. that week.”

Amid a Measles Outbreak, an Ultra-Orthodox Nurse Fights Vaccination Fears in Her Community

Like the story of a nurse in Brooklyn who is educating vaccine-hesitant parents in the middle of a measles outbreak.

And how vaccine-hesitant parents in Oregon are attending vaccine workshops to learn about vaccines from medical professionals.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In exit surveys, the vast majority of people who attend our workshops say they’ve decided to vaccinate their children as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

How do you get anti-vaxxers to vaccinate their kids? Talk to them — for hours.

Had you heard their stories yet?

How about the story about the mom who started the group South Carolina Parents for Vaccines?

“Nelson tries to counter bad information online with facts. But she also understands the value of in-person dialogue. She organized a class at a public library and advertised the event on mom forums.”

A Parent-To-Parent Campaign To Get Vaccine Rates Up

Did you know that a mom in Colorado, who started the group Community Immunity, put up a billboard to help raise immunization rates in her community?

Or that a group of parents formed Vaccinate California and helped support the passage of SB 277 and improved vaccination rates in California?

Did you know that there are similar immunization advocacy groups in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington?

Other communities have Immunization Coalitions and Facebook groups to help answer questions and educate parents about vaccines.

Are you ready to join these vaccine advocates?

More on All of the Vaccine Advocates

Behind the Curtain of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Ever wonder what anti-vaccine folks talk about?

How they do their research?

Behind the Curtain of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Here you go!

How do you argue the point that vaccines killed off all of the diseases?
That seems like a reasonable question…

There is a good reason that folks have a hard time arguing this point.

Vaccines work.

But let’s see how they do…

It is with her summary that says you can treat cancer naturally and without chemotherapy.
It is with her summary that says you can treat cancer naturally and without chemotherapy.

The idea that we simply renamed diseases to make them disappear has to be the silliest anti-vaccine claim that you will hear. If that’s true, why not come out with an RSV vaccine or an HIV vaccine and rename those diseases?

If smallpox was renamed to monkey pox, then where are all of the kids with monkey pox?
If smallpox was renamed to monkey pox, then where are all of the kids with monkey pox?

The idea that better hygiene, sanitation, and good nutrition made now vaccine-preventable diseases go away is a very good theory, because those things did actually improve the mortality rates for most things in the early part of the 20th century. Unfortunately, those effects plateaued by the 1930s.

When my uncle got polio in Brooklyn in the early 1950s, our family and access to very good hygiene, sanitation and nutrition. It didn’t help. Remember, a lot of people were still dying at the time from polio, pertussis, diphtheria, and measles.

It was vaccines.

Actually, it’s the charts and graphs with declining mortality rates from better hygiene and sanitation in the early 20th century that anti-vaccine folks can use to fool folks into thinking that vaccines don’t work. If they actually look at disease rates, with a few exceptions, they will see that they were mostly unchanged.

Charts with mortality rates won't prove their point, but are their only chance to fool folks. They have no chance if they use disease rates...
Charts with mortality rates won’t actually prove their point, but are their only chance to fool folks. They have no chance if they use disease rates

This is actually an interesting idea. Do viruses and bacteria become attenuated or less dangerous over time? Considering that smallpox was around for thousands of years and was still deadly right up until it was eradicated, in general, there is plenty of evidence against this idea. You can also look at polio, which still paralyzing people.

Scarlet fever has become less dangerous, but no evidence that many other diseases have over time.
Scarlet fever has become less dangerous, but no evidence that many other diseases have over time.
Sanitation, plumbing, clean food, hygiene worked to get rid of diseases - anything but vaccines...
Anything but vaccines…

This is another silly idea. It implies that vaccines actually cause outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. If this were true, then as we have been vaccinating more and more people, wouldn’t rates for all of these diseases have been going up over the years? And how did we eradicate smallpox? How are we so close to eradicating polio?

Then why do we see outbreaks in clusters of folks who are mostly intentionally unvaccinated.

Instead, we see outbreaks in clusters of folks who are mostly intentionally unvaccinated and no, it’s not just during “shedding season.”

Witch's brew of vaccines?
Again, anything but vaccines…

Do you really believe that ‘they’ are purposely “releases (sic) these diseases again, to cause hysteria, to get people back in their corner vaccinating again?”

It's a conspiracy! Big Pharma!!!
It’s a conspiracy! Big Pharma!!!
Vaccines are not killing people.
And yet, life expectancy and infant mortality rates are going up…

We know why they are coming back… It ain’t magic.

Are you prepared to argue their point now?

Did they convince you that we renamed diseases, flushing toilets and clean water got rid of all diseases, vaccines cause outbreaks, or that all of the diseases we developed vaccines for just naturally got milder and went away?

Or did they convince you to go out and vaccinate and protect your kids?

More on Behind the Curtain of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

How Can I Get Vaccinated If My Parents Are Anti-Vaccine?

What do kids do when their parents are anti-vaccine?

    Most teens do know what's in a vaccine and they want to get vaccinated and protected.
Most teens do know what’s in a vaccine and they want to get vaccinated and protected.

Whether or not they know it, they hide in the herd, at least until they understand what’s going on.

And then they often make a choice to either continue with their parents beliefs and remain unprotected or they get caught up.

Can Minors Consent to Getting Vaccinated?

Since getting vaccinated is a medical procedure, in most cases, you are still going to need the consent of a parent, guardian, or other adult family member if you are still a minor, which leaves out simply going out and getting caught up.

“State law is generally the controlling authority for whether parental consent is required or minors may consent for their own health care, including vaccination.”

Abigail English, JD on  the Legal Basis of Consent for Health Care and Vaccination for Adolescents

Are you still a minor?

“In most states, age 18 is the age of majority and thus, before treating a patient under the age of 18, consent must be obtained from the patient’s parent or legal guardian.”

Ann McNary, JD on Consent to Treatment of Minors

When it comes to immunizations and health care, in addition to what state you live in, that likely depends on whether or not you are an emancipated minor (court order), married minor, pregnant minor, or minor parent (situational emancipation). It also can depend on the type of health care you are seeking, like if a minor is seeking birth control or treatment for an STD.

“States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Are you a mature minor? In some states, you can also give consent for medical procedures, including getting vaccinated, if you are a mature minor – someone who is old enough to understand and appreciate the consequences of a medical procedure.

In Washington, for example, minors may get immunizations without their parents consent after their health care provider evaluates the minor’s “age, intelligence, maturity, training, experience, economic independence or lack thereof, general conduct as an adult and freedom from the control of parents.”

Fourteen other states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia have laws that allow mature minors to consent to general medical treatment either in all or a range of restricted circumstances.

How Can I Get Vaccinated If My Parents Are Anti-Vaccine?

Believe it or not, this question comes up a lot more than you can ever imagine.

If you are old enough to consent to getting vaccinated on your own, then you are all set and can start to get caught up on your immunizations.

If not, then your options are more limited, but might include:

  • talking to your parents about your concerns
  • asking someone, like your pediatrician, to be an advocate and talk to your parents with you
  • petitioning the court for emancipation ( you may get a whole lot more than the ability to get consent to get vaccinated though…)
  • waiting until you are old enough to consent to get vaccinated without your parent’s permission

While waiting is likely the easiest option, since that leaves you at risk for getting a vaccine-preventable disease, you should probably think about talking to your parents.

Why don’t they want you to get vaccinated? Do they have specific concerns about side effects? Do they have a religious objection?

Vaccines are safe and necessary. Hopefully you can help your parents understand that and they will allow you to get caught up on all of your vaccines.

More on Getting Vaccinated If Your Parents Are Anti-Vaccine