Tag: deaths

Is the Flu Deadlier This Year?

Why do people seem to think that the flu is deadlier this year?

Everyone has a prediction about flu season, but it is still too early to tell if this year will be deadlier than others.
Everyone has a prediction about flu season, but it is still too early to tell if this year will be deadlier than others.

It seems like we get these kinds of warnings and predictions every year.

Is the Flu Deadlier This Year?

Is it true this year?

“Levels of outpatient ILI remain elevated; however hospitalization rates and percent of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza remain low. This is likely due to the predominance of influenza B/Victoria and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses which are more likely to affect children and younger adults than the elderly. Because the majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among people age 65 and older, with fewer illnesses among that group, we expect, on a population level, to see less impact in flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.”

Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, Key Updates for Week 1, ending January 4, 2020

It is certainly true that we are seeing more pediatric flu deaths at this time of year than usual, but we don’t usually have such an early start to the flu season!

“This season so far has been particularly deadly for children, with 27 deaths reported through December 28. That’s the highest number of deaths at this point in the season since the CDC started keeping track 17 years ago.”

Elizabeth Cohen on US on track for one of the worst flu seasons in decades

If flu season also peaks and ends earlier than usual, than it might not end up being an overly severe flu season.

Will it be a deadly flu season?

Of course.

It’s flu season!

“The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 14.6 per 100,000 population which is similar to what has been seen during recent previous influenza seasons at this time of year.”

Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, Key Updates for Week 1, ending January 4, 2020

But there is not yet good evidence that this season is or will be much worse or deadly than others.

Influenza-like Illness numbers don't say anything about the severity of flu illness.
Influenza-like Illness numbers don’t say anything about the severity of flu illness.

Or that this year’s flu vaccine won’t be effective. We won’t get a report on the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine until next month.

“Although the V1A.1 and V1A.3 subclades are genetically distinct, sera from previous studies conducted among humans vaccinated with a V1A.1 virus cross-reacted well with B/Victoria viruses with a three amino acid deletion, such as the V1A.3 viruses. These findings suggest that vaccination with the current season’s vaccine might offer protection against circulating B/Victoria viruses.”

Early Season Pediatric Influenza B/Victoria Virus Infections Associated with a Recently Emerged Virus Subclade — Louisiana, 2019

And while we already know that this year’s flu vaccine isn’t a perfect match, it should offer protection.

Flu mortality surveillance data is still below epidemic threshold, although it is unlikely to stay there much longer.
Flu mortality surveillance data is still below epidemic threshold, although it is unlikely to stay there much longer.

Unfortunately, early flu seasons don’t always peak and end early. And they are sometimes among the worst, like the 2012-13 flu season. But that was an H3N2 season, which often are worse than others.

This year we are in new territory, having an early season that has been dominated by a flu strain B. Since it is not something we have seen before (at least not since the since the 1992–93 season), you can expect the unexpected, just like you should always do when it comes to the flu.

And know that there is really only one prediction that will end up holding true, that a yearly flu vaccine is the best way to protect your family from the flu.

More on Flu Deaths

How the Anti-Vax Movement Takes Advantage of SIDS and SUDC Families

Unfortunately, we have gotten used to the modern anti-vaccine movement doing some horrible things. What’s one of the very worst? Taking advantage of the parents of children who have recently died of SIDS or SUDC.

We commonly see anti-vaccine folks seek out parents whose children have very recently died to make them think that vaccines were the cause.
We commonly see anti-vaccine folks seek out parents whose children have very recently died to make them think that vaccines were the cause.

Making parents think that their baby died because of vaccines.

How the Anti-Vax Movement Takes Advantage of SIDS and SUDC Families

Although we have seen folks like Larry Cook do this time and again, it isn’t what is best for these families.

“When a child dies unexpectedly, a family may feel a flood of emotions, including guilt, anger and lack of control. The clinician’s role is to offer stable support, information and compassionate care. In order to provide the most appropriate care for families in these situations, it is necessary to understand the complexities of the grief and trauma response and to recognize that the families’ needs will change over time.”

Caring for the SUDC Family: Medical and Bereavement Information for the Clinicians’ Consideration

What do anti-vax folks offer to these grieving families?

“During an open investigation, do not speculate on the cause of death with the family. Although this may feel supportive, it often undermines the relationship with the Medical Examiner/Coroner who is legally charged with determining cause of death and adds stress for the family when clinicians and the investigating authorities disagree. It is optimal that clinicians and Medical Examiners/Coroners communicate directly for the best interests of the family. “

Caring for the SUDC Family: Medical and Bereavement Information for the Clinicians’ Consideration

They offer an answer…

“Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) is a category of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy.”

Facts About Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood

Often when answers haven’t been available.

“Dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of a baby to any cause is devastating – but in the case of a death for which no specific cause can be found, the lack of answers about why your baby has died can be overwhelming.”

Surviving the Sudden Death of a Baby

And whether it is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), or SUDC, invariably, the “answer” that they offer is that they should blame vaccines.

Of course, they shouldn’t.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

Vaccines are not associated with SIDS.

Vaccines are not associated with SUID.

Vaccines are not associated with SUDC.

Shame on these folks for making grieving parents think that they are.

These families would get much better help from organizations like the SUDC Foundation and first candle.

More on Caring for SIDS and SUDC Families

What Is Standard of Care?

Anti-vaccine folks who are talking about “standard of care” when deciding who gets a medical exemption for vaccines obviously don’t really understand what it means.

Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?
Why are these advocating against keeping kids protected against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?

Maybe that’s why they put standard of care in quotes in the above infographic against SB276, a new vaccine bill in California that will eliminate fake vaccine exemptions.

What Is Standard of Care?

When we talk about standard of care in medicine, it is important to understand that it is a legal term, with a legal definition:

“That which a minimally competent physician in the same field would do under similar circumstances”

Moffett et al on The Standard of Care: Legal History and Definitions: the Bad and Good News

Does this mean that the minimally competent physicians can choose whatever criteria they want to write fake medical exemptions for vaccines?

Of course not!

“Treatment that is accepted by medical experts as a proper treatment for a certain type of disease and that is widely used by healthcare professionals. Also called best practice, standard medical care, and standard therapy.”

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Just because a few doctors do something a certain way, that doesn’t make it the proper way for it to be done.

These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.
These are among the common conditions that the AAP says should NOT delay vaccination and which are often mistakenly thought to qualify someone for a medical exemption.

And that’s why a doctor making up their own rules for what counts as a vaccine medical exemption, especially when it goes against published guidelines and advice, isn’t standard of care.

More on Standard of Care

Are Vaccine Laws a Form of State Sponsored Segregation?

Bob Sears doesn’t seem to like that more states are having to strengthen their vaccine laws, making it harder for kids to skip or delay their vaccines.

That seems rather ironic, as many parents likely were scared away from vaccinating and protecting their kids because of the misinformation folks like him continue to push.

Are Vaccine Laws a Form of State Sponsored Segregation?

What the latest?

The idea that vaccine laws are a form of state sponsored segregation…

“If you don’t see the historical parallels, and if it doesn’t concern you that State and now Federal Legislators think that discrimination and segregation are OK again, and you don’t realize that this is all a carefully-crafted PR campaign to sell the idea that some children are dirty and dangerous, when decades ago all kids were considered equal, then you are blind.”

Bob Sears

Bob Sears isn’t the first to try and conflate skipping vaccines into a civil rights issue, but he is certainly the one being the most obvious about it…

Now when were all kids really considered equal in the United States?

Was it the late 1980s, when Bob thinks everyone had it so great?

Remember, that was just before the big measles outbreaks from 1989 to 1991, when 123 people died. During those three years, there were also 28 deaths from pertussis, 6 deaths from mumps, 13 deaths from rubella and 77 cases of congenital rubella syndrome!

Life was good?

I was a little older than 10 in 1988 and remember that folks still died of all of these diseases, so added that to this nice infographic so you get the real perspective.

Is this the worst thing Bob has ever posted?

Well, there is that time he talked about unvaccinated kids wearing yellow stars

“…So I tell them they don’t have to whisper. They can say it loud and clear, with confidence. Ya, I guess you don’t want to advertise it around the neighborhood – that will come soon enough. Scarlet “V” anyone? No, not scarlet. Let’s make it yellow. And not a V – a star would be better. That way everyone can know at first glance who is safe to be around and who is not. That way, if your old doctor and his children are walking down the street, they can easily identify your kids and quickly cross to the other side before they get too close.

Ask your Assemblyperson which color and shape they think would be most appropriate.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as a reference to a holocaust. Rather, it’s intended to raise the issue of prejudice and discrimination. Others have likenend vaccine injury to a holocaust. Instead, we are talking about families who choose to not vaccinate. No holocaust here.”

Dr. Bob Sears on The Vaccine Whisperers

So which historical parallel is Bob talking about this time?

Equating real problems of discrimination and segregation to the issue of parents wanting to keep their kids unvaccinated and unprotected is not only silly, but it is also offensive.

And for perspective, in 1988, not only did more people get vaccine-preventable diseases, more people died with vaccine-preventable diseases.

Did we freak out about it? Of course not. We worked towards an immunization plan to control and eliminate more of these diseases.

How can Bob Sears be blind to all of this?

More on Vaccine Laws and State Sponsored Segregation