Tag: herd immunity

Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California

In general, higher immunization rates should translate into lower rates of disease.

And it is true that in most states, including California, overall immunization rates are up.

So what’s happening?

Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California

Everyone knows what’s happening!

Clusters of unvaccinated kids and adults.

Pockets of susceptibles.

Abuse and overuse of vaccine exemptions.

And folks who continue to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

There are measles outbreaks in this part of northern California...
There are measles outbreaks in this part of northern California…

What’s the truth about California’s immunization rates and the reason they are still having outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases?

“Oh, but wait! What do you mean we have higher vaccination coverage NOW than we did back then? How can that be? I thought rates have been declining steadily for two decades putting us in a terrible position of falling wayyyy below herd immunity levels!?

I thought the reason we are now “in danger of disease outbreaks” is because of the increasing number of children being exempted from vaccines? Hold on, wait. You’re telling me there are LESS kids exempted now than there were in the year 2000 when we were free of outbreaks because of “high vaccination rates”? That can’t be right…can it?”

Melissa Floyd

You aren’t going to get it from anti-vaccine folks

73% is actually pretty good for a Waldorf school!
73% is actually pretty good for a Waldorf school!

But it’s not surprising that you get misinformation about herd immunity from folks who think vaccines don’t actually create herd immunity.

And it shouldn’t be surprising that you can’t hide in the herd when your herd is a cluster of unvaccinated kids at a Waldorf school.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary. Vaccinate your kids and help stop the outbreaks.

More on Fact Checking the Truth About Vaccination Rates in California

Did CBS and Hulu Remove the Brady Bunch Measles Episode?

Have you heard the latest anti-vaccine conspiracy theory?

Measles is highly contagious, which is likely why all of the Brady kids got sick.
Measles is highly contagious, which is likely why all of the Brady kids got sick.

Remember the Brady Bunch measles episode?

The one where all the kids got sick and two different pediatricians had to visit the house to check on the kids?

Did CBS and Hulu Remove the Brady Bunch Measles Episode?

While anti-vaccine folks apparently use the fact that the Brady Bunch did a measles episode as a reason to skip or delay their own child’s vaccines, they have gone a little further now, coming up with a conspiracy theory about efforts to keep people from watching the episode.

Are CBS and Hulu part of a conspiracy to silence anti-vaccine folks?
Are CBS and Hulu part of a conspiracy to silence anti-vaccine folks?

The episode, Is There a Doctor in the House?, aired during season 1 on December 26, 1969.

For reference, this was just after the updated measles vaccine was approved in 1967, and when there were at least 25,826 measles cases in the United States and 41 deaths.

Why didn’t they talk about any of that during the episode?

Although some folks read a lot into the episode, it was basically about how Carol and Mike each called separate pediatricians to the house for the kids, one for the boys and one for the girls, instead of just calling one for the newly formed Brady bunch.

But think about it… If measles is so mild, why did they have to call their pediatricians?

And if nothing else, remember that it shows how contagious measles really is. All of the kids got sick!

But was the episode removed so that you can’t watch it anymore?

Where's Episode 13?!? Where are episodes 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 17, and 18? Were they all about measles too?
Where’s Episode 13?!? Where are episodes 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 17, and 18? Were they all about measles too?

Since a lot of other episodes are missing, and not just from season 1, it doesn’t seem very likely.

Why did they pull Season 6, Episode 4 Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright of I Love Lucy? Was that the one where he was got a smallpox vaccine?
Why did they pull Season 6, Episode 4 Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright of I Love Lucy? Was that the one where he was got a smallpox vaccine?

And keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for there to be missing episodes when you try to stream these older shows online.

Mostly remember that when you think that everything is a conspiracy, everything looks like a conspiracy, even when it is easy to find a more reasonable explanation.

More on the Brady Bunch Measles Episode Conspiracy

How to Avoid Getting Caught up in a Measles Outbreak

By now, you have likely heard the news that we are on track for record-breaking numbers of measles cases this year, both in the United States and around the world.

You may also have heard that some of the folks getting caught up in these outbreaks weren’t actually anti-vaccine, but were people who thought they already had measles or thought they were already vaccinated and protected.

How to Avoid Getting Caught up in a Measles Outbreak

Are you and your family protected against measles?

Six ways to avoid measles.

You might be thinking, “of course we are, we get all of our vaccines!”

But you still might want to double check, keeping in mind that:

  • only people born before 1957 are thought to have natural immunity to measles, because measles was very common in the pre-vaccine era
  • the original measles vaccine that was used between 1963 and 1967 was not thought to be effective, so if that’s the only dose you had, it should be repeated
  • a recommendation for a second dose of MMR didn’t come until 1990, so many people born before that time have only had one dose, especially since there was never a catch-up program to make sure older people had two doses. Even now, adults don’t necessarily need two doses of MMR unless they are in a high-risk group (foreign travel, healthcare workers, living with someone who has a compromised immune system, people with HIV, and students).
  • children don’t routinely get their first dose of MMR until they are 12 to 15 months old (one dose is 93% effective at preventing measles), with a second dose at age 4 to 6 years (two doses are 97% effective)
  • a third dose of MMR isn’t typically recommended for measles protection

Still think you and your family are protected?

In addition to routine recommendations, to avoid measles in a more high risk setting (traveling out of the country or during an outbreak), you should:

  • get infants an early MMR, giving them their first dose any time between 6 and 11 months of age (repeating this dose at age 12 to 15 months)
  • get toddlers and preschoolers an early second dose of MMR, giving them their second dose at least 28 days after the routine first dose that they received when they were 12 to 15 months old, instead of waiting until they are 4 to 6 years
  • get older children and adults two doses of MMR if they haven’t already had both doses

What if your baby is exposed to measles before you have a chance to get him vaccinated?

Younger infants who are less than six months old can get a dose of immunoglobulin within 6 days if they are exposed to measles. Older infants, children, and adults can get a dose of MMR within 72 hours if they are not vaccinated and are exposed to someone with measles.

And the very best way to avoid measles is to keep up herd immunity levels of protection in our communities. If everyone is vaccinated and protected, then we won’t have outbreaks and our kids won’t get exposed to measles!

More on Avoiding Measles

We Know What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

It’s no surprise.

If we stop vaccinating, diseases that are now vaccine preventable will come back.

How do we know?

Because it has happened already.

We Know What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

It has happened a lot, actually.

Remember when Sweden stopped using the DPT vaccine?

Between 1979 and 1996, Sweden suspended vaccination against pertussis because of concerns about the DPT vaccine.

Justus Ström‘s data was wrong…

And what happened?

“In 1979, the Swedish medical society abandoned whole-cell pertussis vaccine and decided to wait for a new, safer, more effective vaccine – a strategy that was soon adopted as national policy. During 1980-83, annual incidence for children aged 0–4 years increased to 3370 per 100000, with rates of serious complications approaching global rates. In subsequent years, Sweden reported more than 10000 cases annually with an incidence exceeding 100 per 100000, comparable to rates reported in some developing countries.”

Ganarosa et al on Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story.

Pertussis came back.

In fact, endemic pertussis came back.

“Our evaluation of pertussis in the unimmunized child population gave an answer to the question of whether pertussis nowadays is a harmless disease which does not demand general vaccination. The present situation regarding pertussis in Sweden and the low efficacy of the antimicrobial treatment indicate an urgent need to prevent the disease by general vaccination as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Romanus et al on Pertussis in Sweden after the cessation of general immunization in 1979.

Of course, they already had a safe and effective vaccine at the time. All of the claims against the whole cell pertussis vaccine ended up being untrue.

The same thing happened when Japan stopped using 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

What happened in Ukraine when immunization rates dropped in the 1990s? There were 17,387 cases of diphtheria and 646 deaths from 1992 to 1997. Also high, were cases of measles (over 23,000 cases in 1993) and pertussis (almost 7,000 cases in 1993).

Remember the measles outbreaks that spread across Europe in 2010 to 11, leading to about 30,000 cases of measles each year, and at least 28 deaths?

That should have been enough to warn folks, but it didn’t.

Things are much worse now, with over 120 measles deaths in Europe over the past few years.

More recently, in Venezuela, shortages of most things have led to ongoing epidemics of measles and diphtheria, a “potential for reemergence of poliomyelitis,” and a risk to neighboring countries.

“Officials say the low coverage rate and widespread transmission of the virus is due to many factors, including transport costs for those in rural areas, a high number of people with weakened immune systems, such people living with HIV and tuberculosis – and vaccine refusal.”

Ukraine: Red Cross deployed to help contain largest measles outbreak in Europe in four years

And once again, there are measles outbreaks in Ukraine. This time, they have spread to many other countries, fueling outbreaks in Israel and the United States.

We know what happens if we stop vaccinating. Get vaccinated and stop the outbreaks.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are very obviously necessary.

More on What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

What Percentage of Adults Are up to Date on Their Immunizations?

Are you up to date on your vaccines?

What about everyone else?

What Percentage of Adults Are up to Date on Their Immunizations?

Can you guess why this question comes up so often?

Yup.

There is no plan to force adults to get vaccinated...
There is no plan to force adults to get vaccinated…

It’s about herd immunity.

If most adults aren’t immune because they haven’t been vaccinated or don’t get boosters, then since we aren’t seeing that many outbreaks, herd immunity itself must be a myth.

The thing is though, adults were either born in the pre-vaccine era and likely earned their natural immunity or were born in the vaccine era and are vaccinated and immune.

It is also important to understand that herd immunity is disease specific, so when we talk about herd immunity for measles, it doesn’t matter if everyone has herd immunity levels of protection against hepatitis A or Hib.

And adults do get a few boosters and some vaccines that are only recommended for adults, including the shingles vaccine.

In addition, some vaccines, like Hib and Prevnar, have indirect effects, protecting adults even though they aren’t vaccinated, because vaccinated kids are less likely to become infectious.

But back to the original question, how many adults are up to date on their immunizations?

“While modest gains occurred in vaccination coverage for pneumococcal, Tdap, hepatitis A (persons with chronic liver conditions), herpes zoster, and HPV vaccination, coverage did not improve for other vaccinations and many adults remained unvaccinated with recommended vaccines. “

Vaccination Coverage Among Adults in the United States, National Health Interview Survey, 2016

While most adults are immune to what were once common childhood diseases, like measles and mumps, because they were either vaccinated or had the disease naturally, many could do better with newer vaccines that weren’t available when they were kids.

More on Adult Vaccination Statistics

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

As more folks are calling out vocal vaccine deniers, many are also learning the role of the media in helping fuel the anti-vaccine movement.

“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

Believe it or not, there likely would not have been a big scare over the DPT vaccine in the 1970s and 80s or concerns about the MMR vaccine if the media hadn’t given so much attention to the anti-vaccine players involved.

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

Folks in the media have learned their lesson though, right?

“Balance? There is no balance. There is mainstream, superstrong consensus about the value of vaccination, and on the other side … nothing else, since there is no other side. The media have made parents worry about vaccines in a lame effort to provide balance and all points of view.”

Arthur Caplan on There is no other side to the vaccine debate

Well, apparently not all of them…

If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong...
If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong…

Why would the Chicago Tribune devote nearly 20% of an article to a parent who is against vaccines, especially without correcting her misinformation?

Why haven’t they learned that spreading this kind of misinformation is what scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the first place?

Are vaccinations about parent choice or public safety? That’s the title of the Chicago Tribune article. And maybe that’s why Illinois is among top 5 states for measles as debate heats up, the rest of the title…

How about we give parents a chance to make informed choices without being influenced by propaganda and misinformation?

More on False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Wait, what?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul's Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Anti-vaccine folks actually applauded Rand Paul’s testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Surprisingly, many of the things he said weren’t anti-vaccine.

I guess they ignored those parts…

  • …given the choice, I do believe that the benefits of most vaccines vastly outweigh the risks.
  • I’m not hear to say don’t vaccinate your kids… if this hearing is for persuasion, I’m all for the persuasion. I vaccinated myself. I vaccinated my kids.
  • For myself and my kids, I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks…

So why were they cheering?

Because that’s not all he said…

“Today, instead of persuasion, many governments have taken to mandating a whole host of vaccines, including vaccines for non-lethal diseases.”

Sen Rand Paul

While some vaccine-preventable diseases are more deadly than others, they can all be deadly. From rotavirus and HPV to hepatitis A, these diseases can kill people.

Which vaccine-preventable disease does he think is non-lethal?

“Sometimes these vaccine mandates have run amok. As when the government mandated a rotavirus vaccine that was later recalled because it was causing intestinal blockage in children.”

Sen Rand Paul

That’s an interesting example of “the government” that has run amok…

Which “government” mandated that the original rotavirus vaccine be given to children?

As Senator Paul hopefully understands, the Federal government doesn’t mandate vaccines for anyone. And since it must be given at such a young age, even states don’t actually mandate that the rotavirus vaccine be given to children…

Even today, there are no mandates for the rotavirus vaccine.

If there were, it still wouldn’t mean giving up your Liberty, after all, vaccine mandates don’t mean forced vaccination.

“It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines. Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines. Since 1988, over $4 billion has been paid out from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Despite the government admitting to and paying $4 billion for vaccine injuries, no informed consent is used or required when you vaccinate your child. This may be the only medical procedure in today’s medical world where an informed consent is not required. “

Sen Rand Paul

No one says that there are no risks to vaccines. That’s a classic anti-vaccine talking point.

What folks actually say is that vaccines are safe, with few serious risks.

And the $4 billion that Rand Paul and anti-vaccine folks often talk about has been paid out over more than 30 years, during a time that we have given nearly 300 million doses of vaccines each and every year!

But what’s that he said about informed consent?

Why wouldn’t informed consent be given or be required before getting a vaccine?

Of course, parents get informed consent before getting vaccines.

They don’t get informed consent if they decide to skip or delay their child’s vaccines after getting bad information.

“Now proponents of mandatory government vaccination argue that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children risk spreading these diseases to the immunocompromised community. There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence of this happening for it to be recorded as a statistic, but it could happen. But if the fear of this is valid, are we to find that next we will be mandating flu vaccine?”

Sen Rand Paul

Lastly, why didn’t Sen Paul find evidence that intentionally unvaccinated kids are spreading disease to the immunocompromised community?

Maybe he didn’t look…

It happens.

Do we need it to happen more often so that it becomes a large statistic before he and others will advocate that folks get vaccinated to attend school?

Do you understand have a better understand now why anti-vaccine folks were cheering after his testimony?

“If you believe in Liberty, that’s fine, don’t get immunized. But I don’t think that you need to necessarily expose others to disease.”

Sen Bill Cassidy

It should give you a better understanding both of Rand Paul’s ideas and those of the anti-vaccine movement.

More on Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks