While the idea of chickenpox and measles parties now seems ridiculous to most people, in the pre-vaccine era, it might not have been so strange. Since getting these diseases was inevitable, it might make some sense to try and control when your kids got sick. Did did pediatricians actually encourage parents to have measles parties?
Did Pediatricians Ever Encourage Parents to Have Measles Parties?
Some folks think they have evidence that they did!
Wait, did they really have measles?
These kids had German measles – better known as rubella. Of course, that is not the same thing as measles or rubeola.
Measles vs Rubella
Why do we worry about rubella? Unlike measles, it’s not because it can make kids very sick, but rather because if a pregnant woman gets rubella, then it can be devastating for their baby.
That’s why some folks tried to get rubella when they were kids, well before they reached the age when they could become pregnant.
How did that strategy work out?
Many articles advocating for rubella parties (German measles) appeared in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Of course, those rubella parties didn’t prevent the rubella epidemics that came in 1964-65 and caused 12.5 million rubella virus infections and “resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome.”
The Tdap vaccine is routinely recommended for all pregnant women, so why would it be in the FDA Category C?
We should start by stating that “risk-benefit decisions regarding use of a drug during pregnancy are more complex than the category designations suggest.”
Why is the Tdap Vaccine in Category C?
Anyway, the category designations are no longer being used on new drugs and vaccines.
“In December of 2014, the FDA published the Content and Format of Labeling for Human Prescription Drug and Biological Products; Requirements for Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling, referred to as the “Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Rule” (PLLR or final rule). The PLLR removes pregnancy letter categories – A, B, C, D and X. Instead, under the final rule, narrative summaries of the risks of a drug during pregnancy and discussions of the data supporting those summaries are required in labeling to provide more meaningful information for clinicians.”
Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women
So is it still Category C?
Yes, for now. Few vaccines have converted to the new labeling system yet, which still leaves us with:
Pregnancy Category B: Tdap (Boostrix) – Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women OR Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus during the first trimester (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
Pregnancy Category C: Tdap (Adacel) – Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks OR Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans.
Of course, the Vaccine Safety Datalink has published more than 14 studies “related to pregnancy and vaccination during pregnancy” and has used “data to study the health of children born to women who were vaccinated during pregnancy.”
And many of these studies are about the Tdap vaccine!
“There are no theoretical or proven concerns about the safety of the Tdap vaccine (or other inactivated vaccines like Tdap) during pregnancy. The shot is safe when given to pregnant women.”
Frequently Asked Questions for Pregnant Women Concerning Tdap Vaccination
So how do they explain all of the autistic kids who are unvaccinated?
If It’s Vaccines, Then Why Are There Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated?
Of course, anti-vaccine folks have a ready answer – it’s vaccines, but it’s not just vaccines.
I guess that’s how they explain the fact that there are so many autistic adults too! Well, actually no. Most anti-vaccine folks are surprised when you point out that there are so many autistic adults, as it doesn’t fit in with their idea that autism is new and caused by kids getting more vaccines than they used to.
Well, I guess mostly caused by giving so many more vaccines than we used to – there are also the autistic kids who were never vaccinated.
How do they explain those kids having autism?
Like their competing theories about how vaccines are associated with autism (it’s the MMR vaccine, no it’s thimerosal, no it’s glyphosate contaminating vaccines, etc.), they have a lot of ideas about how everything else causes autism. From fluoride and chlorine to acetaminophen and aluminum-lined containers, plus mercury, arsenic, aspartame, MSG, and the vaccines your child’s great-grandmother received – they think that just about anything and everything can cause autism. Or at least anything that they think they can sell you a treatment for, such as their supplements, special diet plans, or other “cures.”
Makes you wonder why they still focus on vaccines…
But they do, even as more studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with autism. And since vaccines don’t cause autism, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are unvaccinated children with autism. The only reason there aren’t more is that most parents vaccinate their children, so, of course, most autistic children are going to be vaccinated.
Another reason is that some parents stop vaccinating their kids once they have an autistic child. But since vaccines aren’t associated with autism, which is highly genetic and inheritable, younger unvaccinated siblings born after older siblings were diagnosed often still develop autism.
Now if vaccines didn’t cause autism in these unvaccinated kids, why would anyone still think that they caused autism in their older siblings?
“I must admit that it was through conversations with a coworker that I began to suspect something might be wrong with my youngest son. It concerned me so much that I started looking for information online. I read some of the stories and they sounded similar to what I was experiencing with my son – with the symptoms, the regression and the age at which it all started to become apparent.”
Lara’s Story: Growing Up Anti-Vaccine
Unlike some other stories you might read online, Lara’s story is about her unvaccinated autistic child.
She isn’t alone. You only have to look at personal stories and posts in parenting forums to see that there are many cases of autism among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children:
“It is highly likely my 4-year-old son is autistic. And he is completely 100 percent vaccine-free. And I am just at a total loss.”
“I have unvaxxed kids on the spectrum, and my friend does as well.”
“A good friend’s son is autistic. He is totally non-vaxxed.”
“I seriously delayed vaccinating my son, so had very few vaxxes at the time he was diagnosed”
“We have autism in our unvaxxed children”
“I know two little boys who are both autistic, completely non-vaxxed”
“I have two unvaccinated children who are on the autism spectrum and have never vaccinated any of my children.”
“I am not sure what caused my son’s autism, but autistic he is. He is completely unvaxxed as we stopped vaxxing 10 years ago.”
“I have a 10 year old daughter with autism spectrum disorder… My daughter has never had a vaccine, a decision I made shortly after she was born, after much research.”
Unfortunately, while realizing that unvaccinated children can develop autism does help some parents move away from anti-vaccine myths and conspiracy theories, others get pushed deeper into the idea that it is just about toxins. It is not uncommon for some of these parents to blame vaccines they got while pregnant or even before they became pregnant, Rhogam shots, or mercury fillings in their teeth, etc.
Fortunately, most don’t though.
Take Juniper Russo, for example.
She “was afraid of autism, of chemicals, of pharmaceutical companies, of pills, of needles” when she had her baby. She just knew that vaccines caused autism when she first visited her pediatrician after her baby was born and knew all of the anti-vaccine talking points. She also later began to realize that her completely unvaccinated daughter had significant developmental delays. Instead of continuing to believe that vaccines cause autism, Ms. Russo understood that she “could no longer deny three things: she was developmentally different, she needed to be vaccinated, and vaccines had nothing to do with her differences.”
It turns out, they say, that the FDA has admitted that the government is recommending untested, unlicensed vaccines for pregnant women.
Is that true?
Did the FDA Admit That the Government Is Recommending Untested, Unlicensed Vaccines for Pregnant Women?
Of course not!
A response to a Freedom of Information Act request for vaccines that don’t exist. That’s right, neither Tdap nor flu vaccines are currently FDA approved for use by pregnant women.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Tdap and flu vaccines aren’t recommended for use by pregnant women.
Wait, why the difference?
Why are pregnant women being given a vaccine that isn’t formally FDA approved for their use?
Well, vaccine manufacturers have to seek FDA approval for their products. The FDA doesn’t just up and approve new products or give them new indications. And none have ever sought approval in pregnancy.
But that doesn’t keep health experts from making off-label recommendations, such as getting a flu vaccine when you are pregnant.
“In prelicensure evaluations, the safety of administering a booster dose of Tdap to pregnant women was not studied. Because information on use of Tdap in pregnant women was lacking, both manufacturers of Tdap established pregnancy registries to collect information and pregnancy outcomes from pregnant women vaccinated with Tdap. Data on the safety of administering Tdap to pregnant women are now available.”
Updated Recommendations for Use of Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap) in Pregnant Women and Persons Who Have or Anticipate Having Close Contact with an Infant Aged <12 Months — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011
“Flu shots have been given to millions of pregnant women over many years with a good safety record. There is a large body of scientific studies that supports the safety of flu vaccine in pregnant women and their babies.”
Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy
Getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy is a recommendation that has been evolving since 1983. It was known to be safe then, and we are even more confident that it is safe now.
A Tdap shot has been recommended since 2011, although it was first suggested in 2008 that pregnancy was not a contraindication for receiving Tdap.
How do we know these vaccines are safe during pregnancy?
The Vaccine Safety Datalink has published more than 14 studies “related to pregnancy and vaccination during pregnancy” and has used “data to study the health of children born to women who were vaccinated during pregnancy.”
Despite what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and his ironically named Children’s Health Defense organization might think, Tdap and flu shots in pregnancy have been well studied and have been found to be safe.
Ignoring all of the above studies, Kennedy highlights a few that he thinks found problems with flu shots in pregnancy, including one that showed “a suggestion of increased ASD risk among children whose mothers received an influenza vaccination in their first trimester,” a suggestion that was not statistically significant and which was not found in the other trimesters. And another that found an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in women who had also received a flu shot in the previous season, a safety signal that has never been seen before and which continues to be investigated.
Not surprisingly, his latest bombshell is landing with as big of a thud as his HHS lawsuit, as have most of his statements these days…
“CHD’s Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. notes that most flu shots given to pregnant women still contain a mercury-based preservative thimerosal.”
FDA Admits That Government Is Recommending Untested, Unlicensed Vaccines for Pregnant Women
Has Kennedy missed the fact that 80% of flu vaccines are now thimerosal free? It makes you wonder how he defines the word “most?”
“Thimerosal is acknowledged by Proposition 65 in California as a reproductive toxicant and exposure during pregnancy can cause learning and behavioral problems. Tdap contains aluminum, which FDA regulates as a toxin in parenteral nutrition but not in vaccines.”
FDA Admits That Government Is Recommending Untested, Unlicensed Vaccines for Pregnant Women
And what is he concerned about in thimerosal-free flu shots which also don’t contain aluminum? Are those okay in his book?
Mostly, after several flu seasons in which so many people have died, you have to wonder what his goal is here. Does Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. expect folks to skip getting a flu shot when they are pregnant and instead risk getting the flu? Should they skip their Tdap shot and risk their baby dying of whooping cough?