Tag: polio eradication

Too Many Too Soon Revisited

You know how anti-vaccine folks like to say that kids get too many vaccines at too early an age these days?

Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?
Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?

It’s not like the ‘good old days,’ when instead of more vaccines, they just got more diseases.

But looking at the immunization schedules from the 1950s and 1960s, you should know that folks back then got a lot more vaccine doses than you have been led to believe.

Too Many Too Soon Revisited

And you know what else? Those vaccines include the “crude brew” of DPT and smallpox, which contained far more antigens per vaccine than today’s vaccines.

The 1951 immunization schedule published by the AAP.
The 1951 immunization schedule published by the AAP.

By six months, these kids got the smallpox vaccine (200 antigens) and three doses of DPT (3,002 antigens), for a total of 9,206 antigens.

And today?

They could get up to about 174 antigens, including

  • DTaP: 7 antigens * 3 doses = 21 antigens
  • IPV: 15 antigens * 3 doses = 45 antigens
  • Hib: 2 antigens * 3 doses = 6 antigens
  • Prevnar13: 14 antigens * 3 doses = 42 antigens
  • hepatitis B: 1 antigen * 3 doses = 3 antigens
  • rotavirus: 15 antigens * 3 doses = 45 antigens
  • Flu: 12 antigens * 1 dose = 12 antigens

That’s 9,032 fewer antigens or less than 2% of what they once got, even though they are protected against many more diseases!

Not worried about antigens anymore?

Just remember that in the 1950s, in addition to all of these extra antigens, except for smallpox, these vaccines were made with thimerosal and aluminum.

Not that those ingredients were dangerous then, or today. It’s just more recently that folks decided that they were scary.

But it is just important to keep in mind that it is misleading to say that kids only got 2 vaccines then, and now get 69, 72, or 74.

In fact, it’s not just misleading, it’s lying.

If you use the same anti-vaccine math, in the 1950s, they actually got at least 22 doses by age 9 or 10! And they got even more once the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955.

Vaccines don't destroy your life force...
Vaccines don’t destroy your life-force…

Anti-vaccine folks still try to downplay the number of doses of vaccines folks got back in the 1950s and 1960s though.

Why?

To scare you.

Kids do get more vaccines, but they have far fewer antigens, and more vaccines means more protection against more diseases.

In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, kids were dying of diseases that are now vaccine preventable, including rotavirus, hepatitis A and B, chicken pox, pneumococcal meningitis, epiglottitis, Hib meningitis, and meningococcal meningitis, etc.

What about the idea that all of the extra vaccine doses were added right after the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986?

Believe it or not, it was almost nine years, 1995, before a new vaccine (Varivax) was added to the immunization schedule. Others were slowly added after that, including:

  • hepatitis A (1996)
  • rotavirus (1998)
  • Prevnar (2000)
  • Menactra (2006)
  • Tdap (2006)
  • Gardasil (2006)

The biggest change? The one that helps boost the numbers of doses so that anti-vaccine folks can try and say that kids get 72 doses of vaccines?

That was when we started recommending flu shots for healthy kids, beginning with infants for the 2004-05 flu season. Remember, nearly a third of their list is just flu shots…

What about Hib and Hep B? They were both added right before the passage of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

Guess what?

Nothing about their little anti-vaccine memes are true.

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

More on Too Many Too Soon Revisited


How Many Vaccines Did Kids Get in the 1960s?

You have likely heard about the explosion in vaccines and vaccine dosages for kids, right?

Although it is easy to see that today’s counts are inflated to scare folks, it is a little harder to figure out about the good old days, when folks still got measles, mumps, Hib, hepatitis B and meningococcemia.

Did they get 2 vaccines or 5 vaccines or what?

How Many Vaccines Did Kids Get in the 1960s?

Well, maybe it isn’t that hard to figure out…

We could look in some old issues of Pediatrics and see how we used to vaccinate and protect kids back then.

And what would we find?

Kids got multiple doses of DPT, DT, polio, and smallpox vaccines in 1960.
Kids got multiple doses of DPT, DT, polio, and smallpox vaccines in 1960.

Using the same anti-vaccine math that gets us to 72 doses today, these kids in 1960 got 31 doses!

Remember, with anti-vaccine math, each DPT shot counts as 3 vaccines…

Looks like they’re going to have to fix the ad on their truck!

And all of the propaganda they put out trying to scare folks into thinking kids get so many more vaccines than they used too.

More on Immunizations Schedules from the 1960s?

Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

Folks who know the history of the Kennedy family and vaccines are likely surprised that RFK, Jr is holding a contest for his own organization using a visit to the Kennedy compound as a prize.

The Children’s Health Defense is ironically named, as all it seems to do is scare folks away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, something the Kennedy family once championed.

Can someone ask his mom?

Does she plan to go and does she support his work?

Do other members of the Kennedy family?

Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

Before we look at the work of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, let’s review what the Kennedy family has done to help get vaccine-preventable diseases under control.

“Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is also the anniversary of the announcement that a vaccine has been discovered to prevent paralytic polio. Today over 90 million Americans have been vaccinated with the Salk vaccine. Over 80 million remain unvaccinated. Almost 4,800,000 children have not been vaccinated, and the majority of these are under five years of age. I hope that the renewed drive this spring and summer to provide vaccination for all Americans, and particularly those who are young, will have the wholehearted support of every parent in America. I hope that they, knowing some of the long range suffering which comes from an attack of polio — with this miraculous drug I hope that everyone takes advantage of it.”

President John F. Kennedy News Conference 9, April 12, 1961

In 1962, John F. Kennedy signed the Vaccination Assistance Act (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act). It started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, and has been continuously reauthorized ever since.

What else do we know about the Kennedy family and vaccines?

“Rose and maternal health and the health of her children were paramount for her as those children were growing up. She took great pride in getting them out into the countryside, getting them outside and walking through Brookline when they lived there, and getting them fresh air and getting them whatever medical needs they had. But she would say how fearful she was in the days before vaccines of how a child could pass away so quickly.”

Barbara Perry on The Life of Rose Kennedy

Why was she afraid if measles was so mild, as some folks still claim?

“Or take German Measles. We know German Measles during the first three months of pregnancy almost surely will deform the unborn child. Within the last few weeks, a new vaccine has been tested and preliminary results show it is 100% effective. It should be available within a year. Within our proposed clinics this new vaccine can be administered to children, immunizing them forever against a disease which can cause retardation in future generations. “

Eunice Kennedy Shriver speech before the Citizen’s Committee on Mental Retardation

Concerns about congenital rubella syndrome and German Measles (rubella) led many people to get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available.

Remember the rubella epidemic of 1964-65, when there were 12.5 million rubella virus infections, which “resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome?”

“It is most encouraging to learn that 28 million children have been vaccinated. This is a wonderful record. But in the great enthusiasm over the rubella program, attention has been removed from the effort to eradicate the common measles. As a result, the 22,231 reported common measles cases in 1968 have risen to 72,000 reported cases for 1971. All children between the ages of 1 and 12 should be immunized. You can help. Keep interest alive in both the common measles and German measles program.”

Speech by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy March 1972

Maybe we simply need more folks like this advocating for vaccines today.

“Many of you perhaps may or may not know that old-fashioned measles can cause brain damage in children. Here in California as well as in other states, there are thousands of children who have not been vaccinated against this common childhood disease.”

Speech by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy March 1972

How many people have Sargent Shriver’s Peace Corp volunteers help get vaccinated and protected around the world?

“We already have the ability to eradicate red measles, responsible for brain inflammation and mental retardation in one in a thousand cases affected by the disease. The measles vaccine and other vaccines are being administered in increasing numbers today, but we are still far from the kind of universal vaccination program that is necessary. Measles vaccines ought to be administered to every infant from nine months of age on.”

Sargent Shriver at the Special Convocation of George Peabody College (1965)

How many people are vaccinated and protected because of the work of the Kennedy family?

Senator Edward Kennedy’s bill would have helped get more adults vaccinated and protected if it had passed.

How many kids aren’t getting vaccinated because Robert F Kennedy, Jr is scaring their parents?

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”

Robert F. Kennedy

An environmental lawyer, you really have to wonder why he hasn’t championed climate change, instead of going after vaccines, which have been found to be safe, with few risks, and necessary.

More on Why Is RFK, Jr Pimping out the Kennedy Compound to Anti-Vaxxers?

What Is the Morbidity/Mortality Rate of the Polio Vaccine vs the Wild Virus?

Some anti-vaccine folks still think that the risks of vaccines are far greater than the risks of the vaccine-preventable diseases they keep you from getting.

As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks.
As more people are vaccinated and diseases disappear, they forget how bad those diseases are, skip or delay getting their vaccines, and trigger outbreaks. Photo by WHO

They aren’t, but you can kind of understand why they might think that with a disease like polio, when they might never actually have known anyone to have the disease.

What Is the Morbidity/Mortality Rate of the Polio Vaccine vs the Wild Virus?

Still, even though polio is under good control and close to being eradicated, the risk/benefit ratio clearly favors getting vaccinated and protected.

That’s because the polio vaccines are very safe and if we stopped vaccinating, polio could come back.

In fact, morbidity/mortality from polio vaccines are decreasing, as we are using much less oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the transition (OPV cessation) to just using inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

“Over the past ten years, more than 10 billion doses of OPV have been given to nearly three billion children worldwide. More than 16 million cases of polio have been prevented, and the disease has been reduced by more than 99%. It is the appropriate vaccine through which to achieve global polio eradication.”

OPV Cessation

And while most developed countries already use IPV, those that are still using OPV recently switched from a trivalent (tOPV) to a bivalent (bOPV) form of OPV. We could do this because type 2 poliovirus has already been eradicated (2015)!

Of course, the issue with the OPV vaccines is that they rarely cause vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP) and circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV).

Fortunately, this is even less common with bOPV.

As this chart from the WHO shows, polio vaccines are very safe.
As this chart from the WHO shows, polio vaccines are very safe.

So morbidity (getting sick)/mortality (dying) from polio vaccines is low.

There were only 31 cases of wild polio in 2018, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an additional 102 cases of cVDPV in 7 countries.

What about morbidity/mortality from polio?

“As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralysed more than 350 000 children in more than 125 countries every year. In 2018 there were fewer than 30 reported cases in just two countries – Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“Zero polio transmission and health for all”, WHO Director-General gives new year’s wish to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan

With a 99.9% drop in polio cases since 1998, your risk of getting polio in most parts of the world is very low, but you still have to consider both the morbidity/mortality of polio in the pre-vaccine era and the risk of polio returning if we stop vaccinating before it is eradicated.

What about the idea that you don’t have to worry about polio because only 1% of kids with polio developed paralysis?

“The mortality rate for acute paralytic polio ranges from 5–15%.”

Disease factsheet about poliomyelitis

Well, when everyone gets polio, even 1% is a lot.

With such a safe vaccine, why put your kids at risk of getting polio?

Do you even understand what the risks are?

No, it isn’t just the risk of wild polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Since the oral polio vaccines shed, if you are unvaccinated, in addition to the risk of wild polio, there is a small risk of getting circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV) if you are not vaccinated and protected. No, it is not a big risk, as there were only 102 cases of cVDPV in 7 countries in 2018, but it isn’t zero either.

And the other big risk is that if enough folks stop getting vaccinated, taking their chances hiding in the herd, polio will come back and our chance to eradicate another vaccine-preventable disease will fail.

More on the Morbidity and Mortality Rates of Polio