Tag: natural immunity

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

Did Bob Sears admit that he doesn’t “waste my breath” talking about the benefits of vaccines?

Have you noticed the bias in the anti-vaccine movement?

His advocacy against vaccines??? And what about his "educational" writings?!?
His advocacy against vaccines??? And what about his “educational” writings?!?

It’s hard to miss…

The Bias in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Yes, that’s it.

You really only get one side from anti-vaccine folks.

But that’s not all.

In addition to never mentioning the benefits of vaccines, they make you think that:

  • you don’t have to worry about getting measles, chicken pox, and rubella, etc., anymore, because these diseases are rare, forgetting to mention that they are still relatively rare in many countries because most people are vaccinated and protected! When more folks skip or delay their vaccines, as they forget what these diseases are like and they listen to anti-vaccine propaganda, we get outbreaks, especially when they aren’t vaccinated and they travel to places where the diseases are more common!
  • everyone else overlooks the risks, when in fact, the risks of getting vaccinated and protected are just small and all of the so-called vaccine-induced diseases and other things anti-vaccine folks blame on vaccines aren’t real vaccine injuries
  • you don’t have to worry about getting measles, pertussis, or pneumococcal disease, etc., because those diseases are all mild, neglecting to mention that some people do have complications and some die when they catch them
  • if you don’t choose to vaccinate your kids on your own, someone is going to force you to get them vaccinated, overlooking that vaccine mandates don’t actually force anyone to vaccinate their kids – they are just about whether or not intentionally unvaccinated kids should be able to attend school
  • your choice to skip or delay your child’s vaccines won’t affect anyone else, failing to mention that most outbreaks are started by someone who is intentionally not vaccinated
  • if there is a risk, there must be a choice, but with their slogan, they overstate the risks of vaccines, never mention the risks of having the disease, and don’t mention the risk of your child getting other people sick, taking away their choice to keep their kids safe and healthy
  • you can always get vaccinated, but you can never get unvaccinated, neglecting to mention that you can indeed wait too long to vaccinate your kids

The biggest bias though, is not that these folks are against vaccines, but rather that everything they do and say scares parents and makes them feel that they should skip or delay their child’s vaccines, leaving them unprotected and at risk.

Stop listening to them and stop spreading their anti-vaccine propaganda.

More on the Bias in the Anti-Vaccine Movement

The Ethan Lindenberger Story Isn’t Over

As most folks know, Ethan Lindenberger is the Ohio teen who got himself vaccinated over the objections of his mother, who had always believed that vaccines are dangerous.

What will Thanksgiving dinner be like at the Lindenberger home?

During his testimony before Congress, Sen Isakson joked that “I would love to be at Thanksgiving dinner at your house. It would be a heck of a discussion.”

Hopefully the family is talking again by Thanksgiving…

The Ethan Lindenberger Story Isn’t Over

Surprisingly, instead of simply supporting her son’s decision, even if she didn’t agree with it, Ethan’s mom is actually speaking out against him.

“Ethan has had no education at all in this,” said Wheeler. “None, again, he was asking three months ago where to go to get vaccinated and now he’s sitting on a committee voicing his opinion for research he’s done on the internet?”

She even seems to have bought into some of the conspiracy theories folks have created about them.

“They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.”

Jill Wheeler

And unfortunately, as if they hadn’t done enough damage to this family, anti-vaccine folks are doubling down and continue to exploit them.

Ethan’s mom and brother even went out to California and appeared with Del Bigtree on his “show.”

So what led Ethan’s mom on the road to questioning vaccines?

“I remember going in and getting the chicken pox vaccine and after they had administered it, they said, well, you’re going to have to come back in about 10 to 15 years to have it redone. He’s going to have it again. I said well wait a minute, I thought that these vaccinations were forever. They were like well, no, you’re going to have to get it again in 10 years and probably 10 years after that.

I said then why don’t I just let him get the chicken pox? I had it. All my sisters had it. Everyone I know has had the chicken pox. Why don’t I just let him have the chicken pox? Oh no, you don’t want to do that. Just come every 10 years…

That’s when I went home and said somethings not adding up, somethings not adding up, I was always under the assumption that vaccines were a forever thing… I started researching…”

Jill Wheeler

What jumps out the most about this story? There has never been a recommendation to repeat the chicken pox vaccine every ten years. In fact, when it first came out, it was thought that it would be a one time dose. A second dose was later added because we were seeing some mild breakthrough infections.

The only vaccine that we get every 10 years is the one that protects us against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Would you like your child to get tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis so that they have natural immunity and don’t need the shot?

Good luck.

In addition to being very deadly, neither tetanus nor diphtheria infections provide you with natural immunity. And even natural pertussis infections don’t provide lifelong immunity.

We also learned that Ethan’s mom didn’t start her research on Facebook, which isn’t surprising, as Facebook didn’t exist when she first got started. But the anti-vaccine misinformation was there, as the anti-vaccine movement isn’t new. And at some point, she shifted to Facebook, YouTube and other internet sources, and that’s what she used to “debate” her son.

Del Bigtree: Sounds like a kid that goes off and you know starts smoking pot and shooting heroin.

Jill Wheeler: That’s what I’m saying, instead of that, he went and got vaccinated.

Del Bigtree: That’s how you rebel.

Jill Wheeler: That’s how you rebel.

Del Bigtree: Keep your pharmaceutical products I could get hooked on oxycontin, but I’m gonna go with vaccines.

For folks that talk about vaccine choice a lot, they don’t seem to like the choice that Ethan Lindenberger made…

“Well I think that us, taking a voice against what my brother is doing is going to be able to make an effort towards the Liberty movement to make sure that this lies an individual decision. “

Isaac Linderberger

They also ignore the fact that vaccine mandates don’t force anyone to get vaccinated and that their choice to skip or delay vaccines puts others at risk.

“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

They also miss that by making a decision based on misinformation, they aren’t truly making an informed decision.

More on The Ethan Lindenberger Story


An Unvaccinated Child in Oregon Recently Had Tetanus

I recently wrote about how there was a case of diphtheria in Oklahoma last year.

It was a good reminder that we aren’t just seeing measles outbreaks these days.

Need another reminder?

An Unvaccinated Child in Oregon Recently Had Tetanus

An unvaccinated 6-year-old in Oregon developed tetanus.

Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury?
In a similar case, an unvaccinated 4-year-old got severe tetanus after a minor toe nail injury. (CC BY 3.0)

“In 2017, a boy aged 6 years who had received no immunizations sustained a forehead laceration while playing outdoors on a farm; the wound was cleaned and sutured at home. Six days later, he had episodes of crying, jaw clenching, and involuntary upper extremity muscle spasms, followed by arching of the neck and back (opisthotonus) and generalized spasticity. Later that day, at the onset of breathing difficulty, the parents contacted emergency medical services, who air-transported him directly to a tertiary pediatric medical center. The boy subsequently received a diagnosis of tetanus and required approximately 8 weeks of inpatient care, followed by rehabilitation care, before he was able to resume normal activities.”

Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017

Many folks will recognize the “jaw clenching” from the alternative name for tetanus – lockjaw.

“Upon hospital arrival, the child had jaw muscle spasms (trismus). He was alert and requested water but was unable to open his mouth; respiratory distress caused by diaphragmatic and laryngeal spasm necessitated sedation, endotracheal intubation, and mechanical ventilation. Tetanus immune globulin (3,000 units) and diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) were administered for presumed tetanus. He was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and cared for in a darkened room with ear plugs and minimal stimulation (stimulation increased the intensity of his spasms). Intravenous metronidazole was initiated, and the scalp laceration was irrigated and debrided.”

Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017

Wait, wasn’t it too late to vaccinate him at this point?

Of course not.

Remember, tetanus vaccine doesn’t actually kill the tetanus bacteria. Or even prevent a tetanus infection, believe it or not. The tetanus shot is a toxoid vaccine directed against the toxin that the tetanus bacteria makes.

Once tetanus spores germinate, the bacteria have to grow and then produce exotoxins. The exotoxins then have to travel to different sites in your nervous system, where they act as neurotoxins.

At this point, although he was treated with antibiotics and tetanus immune globulin, there is still a chance that spores will germinate and becteria will eventually grow and produce more exotoxin. Getting the vaccine helps ensure that you will make some of your own antibody to fight them.

“His opisthotonus worsened, and he developed autonomic instability (hypertension, tachycardia, and body temperatures of 97.0°F–104.9°F [36.1°C–40.5°C]). He was treated with multiple continuous intravenous medication infusions to control his pain and blood pressure, and with neuromuscular blockade to manage his muscle spasms. A tracheostomy was placed on hospital day 5 for prolonged ventilator support. Starting on hospital day 35, the patient tolerated a 5-day wean from neuromuscular blockade. On day 44, his ventilator support was discontinued, and he tolerated sips of clear liquids. On day 47, he was transferred to the intermediate care unit. Three days later, he walked 20 feet with assistance. On day 54, his tracheostomy was removed, and 3 days later, he was transferred to a rehabilitation center for 17 days.”

Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017

And since you don’t develop natural immunity to tetanus, getting vaccinated helps protect you from future exposures.

After an episode like this, you wouldn’t want to risk your child getting this sick again, would you?

“The boy required 57 days of inpatient acute care, including 47 days in the intensive care unit. The inpatient charges totaled $811,929 (excluding air transportation, inpatient rehabilitation, and ambulatory follow-up costs). One month after inpatient rehabilitation, he returned to all normal activities, including running and bicycling. Despite extensive review of the risks and benefits of tetanus vaccination by physicians, the family declined the second dose of DTaP and any other recommended immunizations.”

Notes from the Field: Tetanus in an Unvaccinated Child — Oregon, 2017

Well, most of us wouldn’t…

Hopefully other parents learn a lesson though.

Remember, you can wait too long to vaccinate your kids. You can skip or delay a vaccine long enough that they end up getting measles, tetanus, diphtheria, or meningococcemia, etc., before you get caught up.

More on Tetanus In An Unvaccinated Child in Oregon

Bob Sears on Hiding in the Herd

How do some intentionally unvaccinated kids get away without getting sick?

Mandatory vaccination laws still don't mean forced vaccination.
Mandatory vaccination laws still don’t mean forced vaccination.

How does a pediatrician get away without seeing kids harmed by vaccine-preventable diseases?

Bob Sears on Hiding in the Herd

Most folks know the answer

“And in my 20 years of pediatric practice, I have never once seen a child seriously harmed by a vaccine-targeted infection. Oh sure, I’ve seen kids get sick. And they all get better. And this is in a practice where most of my patients don’t vaccinate (or don’t anymore after one child suffers). So if anyone should be seeing kids get harmed from infections, it should be me, right? But not even one. “

Bob Sears

There are a few simple reasons that all of Dr. Bob’s intentionally unvaccinated kids all get better when they get sick.

In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy.
In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

For one thing, vaccine-preventable diseases don’t kill every single person that gets them! Even in the pre-vaccine era, most kids did recover. Tragically though, not all did. And not all did without complications.

That’s why we say that you have to earn your natural immunity.

Even more importantly though, since most other parents vaccinate their kids, his intentionally unvaccinated kids are simply at less risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

They are hiding in the herd – free-riding and benefiting from the herd immunity that’s provided by those of us who do vaccinate and protect our kids.

Mostly though, Dr. Bob has been lucky.

185 kids, mostly unvaccinated, died with the flu last year.
185 kids, mostly unvaccinated, died with the flu last year.

And so have his patients.

They are especially lucky that more folks don’t listen to him and instead understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks.

“Here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter if vaccines played a role in reducing the incidence of certain diseases in industrialized nations 60 years ago. Yep, I said it. ***Decades have passed and we’re STILL vaccinating like we are in a developing country and it’s the year 1900.***”

Melissa Floyd

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that kids were dying from Hib meningititis, Hib epiglotittis, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease, hepatitis B, and rotavirus. You don’t have to go back 60 years or all of the way to 1900!

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

And that so many people do get vaccinated is the only thing keeping these diseases from coming back at even higher numbers.

Even Dr. Bob used to know that…

More on Bob Sears on Hiding in the Herd

More About Measles Deaths in the United States

Anti-vaccine folks like to talk about death and measles, as long as they can talk about vaccine deaths, something they seem to think happens commonly.

“Over the past ten years in the U.S., there has been one reported death from the measles, and it is unclear based on the medical history of the patient whether and how measles played a role in their death. During the same time period (based on Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports), there have been 105 reported deaths associated with the MMR or MMRV vaccinations.”

Measles Madness: Dr. Brian Hooker’s Statement to WA Legislators

There are two big problems with this statement, that is so often repeated that it is clearly a PRATT – a point refuted a thousand times.

The reports in VAERS about deaths after MMR are not proof of a cause-and-effect relationship.

“Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”

Guide to Interpreting VAERS Data

In fact, studies have shown that most of the reports of deaths submitted to VAERS are coincidental and not causally associated with a vaccine.

But what about deaths following a natural measles infection?

There are plenty of those that anti-vaccine folks love to ignore.

Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research = WONDER
Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research = WONDER

Where are they?

There were actually 5 SSPE deaths and 2 measles deaths in 1999, but I started the list from 2000, as that was when the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in the United States.
There were actually 5 SSPE deaths and 2 measles deaths in 1999, but I started the list from 2000, as that was when the endemic spread of measles was eliminated in the United States.

These deaths are all in the CDC Wonder database.

Before the death of the woman in Washington in 2015, the CDC caused a lot of confusion by stating that “the last verifiable death in the United States from acute measles infection occurred in 2003 when there were 2 reported deaths.”

Does that mean that the measles deaths in 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2012 didn’t happen?

Of course not!

The information in the CDC Wonder database comes from death certificates that are sent in from all over the United States to the National Vital Statistics System. The system isn’t like VAERS though, where just anyone can send in a report. Still, they are unverified, which is why the CDC doesn’t mention them all.

Still, if anti-vaccine folks are going to push VAERS reports that we know are likely coincidental, then they shouldn’t ignore these measles deaths.

More About Measles Deaths in the United States

What is the Natural Immunity Model?

It’s becoming a little clearer why some folks think it is safe to not vaccinate their kids, leaving them at risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

Who's calling the measles outbreaks a national emergency?
Who’s calling the measles outbreaks a national emergency?

Their idea of a natural immunity model of getting disease simply involves hiding in the herd and any outbreaks they trigger magically stopping.

What is the Natural Immunity Model?

Bob Sears thinks he has exposed some big news, that not everyone who gets measles dies.

Fortunately, that’s very true and something folks have always known.

With a death rate of about 1 in 1000 cases, you wouldn’t expect to have had any deaths after just 50 or 60 cases. But you never know. It’s not like every 1000th case dies. It could be the second case, the 562nd, or the 3043rd.

The hospitalization rates work the same way. They are statistical averages of what typically happens when people get measles.

That’s why measles was once called a “harmless killer.” It is often harmless, if you call having a high fever and feeling miserable for a week harmless, but it is sometimes a killer.

So is what we are seeing in Washington “what an outbreak looks like with the natural immunity model,” when no one is vaccinated and protected?

Of course not!

In a natural immunity model, up to 90% of the people who are exposed to someone with measles get sick!

In the pre-vaccine era, everyone got measles. That's the natural immunity model.
In the pre-vaccine era, everyone got measles. That’s the natural immunity model.

In a natural immunity model, everyone gets measles.

Not everyone survives having measles though.

Remember, the last measles death in the United States was during a 2015 outbreak in Washington. A immunocompromised women got caught up in an outbreak of mostly unvaccinated people, got measles, and died.

That’s the natural immunity model.

This family didn't have a choice about their son getting sick - he was too young to be vaccinated when he was exposed to an unvaccinated child with measles.
This family didn’t have a choice about their son getting sick – he was too young to be vaccinated when he was exposed to an unvaccinated child with measles.

Not having a choice about getting measles.

That’s the natural immunity model.

Worry about your child with leukemia after an exposure to measles…

That’s the natural immunity model.

“Well, what does this mean? Much like the outbreak in 2014 in a large Amish community (around 400 cases), and the recent NY outbreak in an orthodox Jewish community (around 100 cases), these types of outbreaks are centralized and self-limiting—which means they don’t spread like wildfire. These cases are also almost exclusively in communities who are CHOOSING not to be vaccinated. In other words, they are not random people “victimized” by measles. #dontfeelsorryforthem”

Melissa Floyd

Do anti-vaccine folks really think that these outbreaks are self-limiting? That they just stop on their own?

Do they not understand that the only thing that keeps them from “spreading like wildfire” is the intensive work of the local and state health departments, efforts to get folks vaccinated, and quarantines?

The Disneyland measles outbreak, for example, was hardly centralized or self-limited. It spread to Arizona, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Mexico, and Canada.

And like many other large outbreaks, it cost millions of dollars to contain.

“Measles outbreaks can be very costly to communities, a new report suggests. For example, the 2013 measles outbreak in New York City cost the city’s health department nearly $395,000 and more than 10,000 personnel hours, according to a report in JAMA Pediatrics. And there were other non-monetary costs, including the loss of a pregnancy, researchers reported.”

Measles outbreaks come with serious consequences

That hardly sounds like something that is harmless or self-limited.

“Now, the ACIP is preparing to add a 3rd dose for all college-age students to try to stop adults from getting and spreading measles—THAT’S how common adults cases are. Yet in Washington, there were only three??”

Melissa Floyd

Not only is there no call for a third dose of MMR to help stop the spread of measles, the CDC actually says a third dose isn’t necessary.

“In the event that a HCP who has 2 documented doses of MMR vaccine is tested serologically and determined to have negative or equivocal measles titer results, it is not recommended that the person receive an additional dose of MMR vaccine. Such persons should be considered to have presumptive evidence of measles immunity.”

Immunization of Health-Care Personnel: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)

Any talk about a third dose of MMR has to do with outbreaks of mumps…

“Is this all a coincidence my friends? Is the panic generated because of motive rather than data? In other words, could the media actually be encouraged to shift public beliefs on an issue to help pass legislation with a vested interest? #HerdImmunityDoesntApplyToVaccines”

Melissa Floyd

It’s not a coincidence that we are seeing so much anti-vaccine measles panic and propaganda these days. Outbreaks always bring it out.

Why?

It becomes harder to justify your decision to leave your kids unvaccinated and unprotected when you actually start to see that intentionally unvaccinated kids are getting sick.

More on the Natural Immunity Model