almost 80% of all compensated awards by the NVICP come as a “result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.”
the NVICP settlements are funded by an excise tax on vaccines
the NVICP cases are published by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, so all information is disclosed to the public and no safety concerns are hidden
So what does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) really prove?
Vaccines don’t affect infant mortality rates as much as you would expect, because there are many other things that kill infants besides vaccine-preventable diseases. Things like birth defects, prematurity, injuries and complications during pregnancy.
“It may come as no surprise to many that the Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general.”
Jay Greenberg on Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate, Highest Life Expectancy
Japan is not anti-vaccine. Although their immunization schedule is certainly a lot more complicated than ours, they give many of the same vaccines as every other developed country.
“Following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death, the Japanese government banned the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine from its vaccination program, despite facing serious opposition from Big Pharma.”
Was the MMR vaccine banned in Japan?
The MMR vaccine was introduced in Japan in 1989, and four years later, the government withdrew its recommendation for the vaccine.
Why? Reports of aseptic meningitis. This was likely due to the Urabe strain of the mumps component in their MMR vaccine, which was not used in the United States.
“The data up to now have revealed low rates of aseptic meningitis and no cases of virologically proven meningitis following the use of Jeryl–Lynn and RIT 4385 strains.”
WHO on Safety of mumps vaccine strains
They didn’t ban the vaccine or vaccination though.
They returned to giving children separate measles, rubella, and mumps (optional) vaccines. Tragically, because many kids didn’t get vaccinated against mumps, the rate of aseptic meningitis from people who actually got mumps was 25 times higher than the rate from the MMR vaccine!
“Due directly to these gaps in ‘herd’ immunization resulting from politicized transitions in vaccination policy by the government, there were outbreaks of rubella with 17,050 cases reported between the years of 2012 and 2014, and 45 cases of congenital rubella syndrome reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases from week 1, 2012 to week 40, 2014.”
Yusuke Tanaka on History repeats itself in Japan: Failure to learn from rubella epidemic leads to failure to provide the HPV vaccine
That’s no surprise to those who remember what happened in 1975, when routine pertussis vaccinations were halted in Japan following the deaths of two children. That eventually lead to epidemic cases of whooping cough in the country and at least 41 deaths in children (in 1979) before the vaccine was restarted.
Unfortunately, once they moved to DTaP vaccines, they started to see an increase in allergic reactions after kids got their MMR vaccine. Why? Their version of the DTaP vaccine contained poorly hydrolyzed bovine gelatin, which likely sensitized infants, who then developed an allergic reaction after getting an MMR vaccine with gelatin. While gelatin was removed from their DTaP vaccines, these extra side effects likely scared some folks in Japan.
Japan’s Vaccine Problem
Japan has more vaccine-preventable diseases than many other industrial countries.
Is it because Japan is anti-vaccine?
Of course not.
By impulsively halting and withdrawing vaccines, the Japanese government has done a good job of scaring folks though. They have also been very slow to introduce new vaccines, although they are catching up, as hepatitis, B, rotavirus, Hib, pneumococcal, meningococcal, HPV, and the chicken pox vaccine are all now available in Japan.
Have there been any benefits?
They might have lower infant mortality rates, but that has nothing to do with vaccines.
There is no correlation between the number of vaccines that a country gives and their infant mortality rate.
With higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially right after they impulsively halt a vaccine, Japan’s vaccine history simply demonstrates that vaccines work and that they are still very necessary.
One thing is true though. Japan’s infant mortality rate has been dropping, but then so has the infant mortality rate in almost all other countries, including the United States, which is at record low levels.
It certainly isn’t true that Japan’s infant mortality rate started to drop following a ban on mandatory vaccinations. How do we know that? Like many other countries, Japan has never had mandatory vaccinations. And not surprisingly, their infant mortality rate has continued to drop as they have added more vaccines and improved their immunization rates.
As most folks know, neither the DPT nor OPV vaccines are used in the United States.
That they are still used in other countries likely raises some questions for those folks that get them.
Why Are the DPT and OPV Vaccines Still Used in Some Countries?
As I am sure you have guessed, there is no conspiracy about the continued use of these vaccines in other parts of the world. We aren’t getting rid of old stocks of vaccines or using cheaper vaccines in poorer parts of the world.
So what’s the reason?
To understand why they are still used in other countries, it helps to understand why they aren’t used here.
Remember that the DPT vaccine, which protects folks against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, came under attack in the 1970s and 80s as some folks blamed the vaccine for causing vaccine injuries, including seizures and encephalopathy. It didn’t, but we still got a new vaccine, DTaP, which doesn’t seem to work as well.
“Although concerns about possible adverse events following their administration have led to the adoption of acellular pertussis vaccines in some countries, whole-cell pertussis vaccines are still widely produced and used globally in both developed and developing countries. Whole-cell pertussis vaccines that comply with WHO requirements, administered according to an optimal schedule have a long and successful record in the control of whooping cough. Furthermore, the excellent efficacy of some currently available whole-cell pertussis vaccine has also been shown, not only in recent clinical trials, but also on the basis of the resurgence of disease where vaccination has been interrupted or when coverage has markedly decreased. Therefore, WHO continues to recommend whole-cell pertussis vaccines for use in national immunization programmes.”
WHO on Recommendations for whole-cell pertussis vaccine
The WHO now recommends that if countries do switch to DTaP, the acellular pertussis vaccine, they should be prepared to add additional periodic booster doses and immunizations during pregnancy, which may still “may not be sufficient to prevent resurgence of pertussis.”
The OPV vaccine, on the other hand, was replaced because it can rarely cause vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) and circulating vaccine-derived polio virus (cVDPV). Of course, it does it at much lower rates than wild polio virus, so until polio is well controlled, the benefit of using OPV outweighs the risk. In addition to being less expensive and easier to use, OPV has the benefit over IPV of providing better herd immunity.
At some point, as we did in the United States in 2000, countries make a switch to the IPV vaccine.
In 2016, remaining countries that use OPV switched from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV, because wild polio virus type 2 was eradicated in 1999. Once the remaining two types are eradicated, we can stop using the OPV vaccine altogether.
Until then, countries either use:
OPV plus one dose of IPV
sequential IPV-OPV schedules – high vaccine coverage and low risk of wild polio importation
IPV only schedules – sustained high vaccine coverage and very low risk of wild polio importation
So there is no conspiracy. These vaccines are safe and they work.
Anti-vaccine folks rarely talk about the complications of vaccine-preventable diseases. For that matter, they also often push the idea that vaccines don’t even work and that these diseases aren’t even vaccine preventable, don’t they?
It’s because some folks think that everything that happens to their kids is a vaccine injury.
Personal Stories About Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
If you are going to watch those videos and listen to their stories, getting scared in the process, be sure to also listen to the stories of parents who’s kids have suffered through actually getting a vaccine-preventable disease.
While it’s great that these diseases are much less common because most people vaccinate and protect their kids, one side effect of that progress is that we don’t have many reminders of just how terrible these diseases are anymore.Have you ever seen a baby with congenital rubella syndrome?
“Kimberly Coffey was buried three days before her high school graduation in the prom dress she didn’t get to wear. She didn’t have the opportunity to be vaccinated against Meningitis B.”
Kim’s Meningitis Story
In Kimberly‘s case, the Men B vaccine wasn’t yet available, but in many other cases, parents have shared their stories of unvaccinated children who suffered with a disease that was vaccine preventable at the time.
“From 2010 to 2016, young children continued to be at the greatest risk for influenza-associated pediatric deaths. Children without preexisting medical conditions accounted for half of all deaths. Vaccination coverage was low among influenza-associated pediatric deaths.”
Shang et al. on Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2010–2016
Are the stories supposed to scare you into vaccinating your kids?
Of course not. Just like you shouldn’t let the myths and propaganda from the anti-vaccinate movement scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.
Instead of being motivated by fear, you should make your decision because you understand that the many benefits of vaccines are far greater than their small risks.
What to Know About Vaccine-Preventable Disease Stories
Reading stories of vaccine-preventable diseases are a good reminder that these diseases are not so mild as some folks suggest, and they are instead life-threatening diseases that are best avoided by getting fully vaccinated.
13 vaccines, including 5 doses of DTaP, 4 doses of IPV (polio), 3 or 4 doses of hepatitis B, 3 or 4 doses of Hib (the number of doses depends on the vaccine brand used), 4 doses of Prevnar, 2 or 3 doses of rotavirus (the number of doses depends on the vaccine brand used), 2 doses of MMR, 2 doses of Varivax (chicken pox), 2 doses of hepatitis A, 1 doses of Tdap, 2 or 3 doses of HPV (the number of doses depends on the age you start the vaccine series), 2 doses of MCV4 (meningococcal vaccine), and yearly influenza vaccines
protection against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, pneumococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, HPV, rotavirus, Hib, and flu
about 28 doses of those vaccines by age two years (with yearly flu shots)
about 35 doses of those vaccines by age five years (with yearly flu shots)
as few as 23 individual shots by age five years if your child is getting combination vaccines, like Pediarix or Pentacel and Kinrix or Quadracel and Proquad
about 54 doses of those vaccines by age 18 years, with a third of that coming from yearly flu vaccines
How do you get a number like 72?
You can boost your count to make it look scarier by counting the DTaP, MMR, and Tdap vaccines as three separate vaccines each, even though they aren’t available as individual vaccines anymore.
This trick of anti-vaccine math quickly turns these 8 shots into “24 doses.”
At age four years, when your preschooler routinely gets their DTaP, IPV, MMR, and chicken pox shots before starting kindergarten, how many vaccines or doses do you think they got? Two, because they got Kinrix or Quadracel (DTaP/IPV combo) and Proquad (MMR/chickenpox combo)? Four, because they got separate shots? Or Eight, because you think you should count each component of each vaccine separately?
Know that even if you do want to count them separately, it really just means that with those two or four shots, your child got protection against eight different vaccine-preventable diseases – diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox.
Anti-vaccine folks often claim that health officials only worry about measles and measles outbreaks.
They can’t understand why anyone gets concerned by a few measles cases here and there, not understanding that a lot of work goes into containing measles outbreaks and making sure that they don’t grow beyond a few cases.
We do get concerned about measles outbreaks though.
“Whenever measles strikes, it’s more than just an outbreak of a single disease, or an indication that children aren’t receiving their measles shots; it’s also a warning that immunization coverage in general, for all vaccine-preventable diseases, is lower than it should be.
To put it another way: When rates of routine vaccination—children receiving all their shots on schedule, as a preventive measure rather than a reaction to an outbreak—start to fall, the first sign is usually a measles outbreak.”
Seth Berkley on Measles Outbreaks Are a Sign of Bigger Problems
The measles vaccine is among the most effective vaccines we have, so if we are seeing outbreaks, even though measles is very contagious, it means there is a problem.
“A focus on measles surveillance can help detect populations unreached by immunization systems and, by extension, program weaknesses. Measles serves as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for detecting problems with immunization programs, a characteristic whose importance has recently been highlighted in the context of global health security.”
Orenstein et al on Measles and Rubella Global Strategic Plan 2012–2020 midterm review
As much as anti-vaccine folks like to try and minimize how serious measles can be, it is easy to see that measles is indeed a serious, life-threatening disease. We had good nutrition, proper sanitation, and modern health care in 1990, and still, a lot of people died with measles. Rates of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a late complication of measles, went up too, in the years after these outbreaks.
“Measles is a wholly preventable disease, and it was almost eradicated from the country in 1983, when only 1,497 cases were reported. But by 1990, after Federal budget cuts and the end of the Government’s monitoring of immunization programs, more than 30,000 cases of measles and more than 60 deaths were reported.”
Panel Ties Measles Epidemic to Breakdown in Health System
Those outbreaks were fixed, as we improved access to help kids get vaccinated and protected. Unfortunately, the issue with outbreaks today isn’t about access to vaccines, at least not in the developed world. It is about parents intentionally skipping or delaying vaccines.