Tag: regret

Healthy Kids Can Just Die

No one likes to think about it, but yes, healthy kids can just die.

Tragically, misunderstanding this fact can lead some parents who have lost a child to blame vaccines.

Healthy kids can just die and they are often attacked by anti-vaccine groups who push them to blame vaccines.
The 8 year-old child they are talking about died of SUDEP or Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy.

It certainly doesn’t help that anti-vaccine folks are targeting families who have recently lost a child, pushing them to blame vaccines…

Healthy Kids Can Just Die

Speaking of vaccines, that leads us to one group of healthy kids who can die suddenly – those who die with a vaccine-preventable disease.

All of those kids who die with the flu each year? Many are healthy. And many are unvaccinated.

Infants who die with pertussis.

Teens who die with meningococcemia.

They were all typically healthy – at least they were before they got sick.

And then some of them died.

Of course, vaccine-preventable diseases are not a common way for children to die in developed countries anymore – thanks to vaccines.

Healthy Kids Dying is Not a Vaccine Injury

Again, although no one likes to think about it, healthy kids can just die.

Surprisingly, about 10% of deaths in children over age 12 months are classified as sudden death, including many in healthy kids with no explanations for how they died.

These types of sudden, unexplained deaths are actually the 5th leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years. That adds up to about 400 deaths a year in the United States alone!

Were some of these kids recently vaccinated?

Of course.

Just like some infants who die of SIDS were recently vaccinated.

That doesn’t mean that the vaccines caused the deaths though.

“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

So why do some people blame vaccines?

“The parents’ need to understand why their baby died came across very strongly in most interviews despite parents not being asked specifically about this.”

Garstang et al on Parental understanding and self-blame following sudden infant death: a mixed-methods study of bereaved parents’ and professionals’ experiences

Few people like the idea that there isn’t a known reason for why a child died.

“Our results suggest that most parents really want to know why their baby died; not knowing why their baby died may cause further distress to parents, whether this is due to long waits for the results of postmortem examinations or because deaths remain unexplained. An unexplained death by its nature is an unpredictable event rendering the parents powerless to prevent future tragedies, thus increasing the anxiety and grief; having as much information as possible should help parents to emotionally accept and make sense of the death to themselves.”

Garstang et al on Parental understanding and self-blame following sudden infant death: a mixed-methods study of bereaved parents’ and professionals’ experiences

Saying it was vaccines gives people an answer.

“The aggregated theme, We Feel Like We’re to Blame, was composed of three categories: (a) Not where s/he was supposed to sleep, (b) Naming the cause of death increases my guilt, and (c) It was our fault. Mothers often felt that they were being told that the baby’s death was their fault.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

And in the case of SIDS, especially if the baby was in an unsafe sleeping environment, it is easy to see that blaming vaccines might help those who were made to feel that the death had been their fault, even though bedsharing is widely pushed as a safe alternative to roomsharing in many parenting circles.

It isn’t.

“The mothers talked about how difficult it was trying to move on after an unexpected infant death. They expressed that they are not only dealing with the grief of losing a child, but they are dealing with the feelings of guilt, despair, and regret. In this aggregated theme, there were three categories: (a) I can’t talk about it, (b) One step forward, and (c) Support helps me get through.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

One thing should be clear.

Seeking support in anti-vaccine Facebook groups is not healthy and will not help parents deal with their feelings of guilt, despair, or regret.

Shaming was described from the mothers’ perspective “ . . . it sounds so blaming and makes me feel like they think we killed our baby.” Parents were dealing with the grief of losing children, but they were also exhibiting feelings of guilt and responsibility for the deaths. The mothers did find support and eventually moved forward emotionally. In the end, as one mother succinctly expressed, “I am pregnant now . . . we are happy, but are scared, too.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

These parents instead need support and doctors, nurses, first responders, child protective service workers, and medical examiners that don’t worsen their grief and guilt.

If you need to blame vaccines, then go ahead and do so, but please also get some extra help from the resources below.

And lets work to figure out why these healthy kids are dying, so we can get better at saving them and preventing these deaths.

More on Healthy Kids Can Just Die

Who Are the Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians?

Surprisingly, not all of the members of the American Academy of Pediatrics are on the side of advocating for vaccines!

Who Are the Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians?

Sure, except for a few outliers, most of the members of the AAP are typically strong advocates for vaccines.

In fact, one of the very first actions of the AAP was to establish the Committee on Immunization Procedures in 1936. They soon published the first vaccine recommendations for kids in the 1938 pamphlet, Routine measures for the prophylaxis of communicable diseases.

So what happened?

How did we end up with anti-vaccine pediatricians?

In 1954, Dr. Roger L. J. Kennedy, the president of the AAP, declared that he would not allow his own children to get Salk’s polio vaccine during the Polio Pioneer trials.

New York Times April 8, 1954.

Was he right, considering what happened with the Cutter Incident?

Since none of the polio vaccines produced directly by Jonas Salk caused any problems, no, Kennedy wasn’t right and could have put the whole trial at risk if folks had listened to him.

We next saw Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, a pediatrician who was against many standard practices, including ultrasounds in pregnancy, “water fluoridation, immunization, coronary bypass surgery, licensing of nutritionists, and screening examinations to detect breast cancer.”

He appeared on Donahue in the early 1980s, making claims that “The greatest threat of childhood diseases lies in the dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them through mass immunization.”

mendelsohn
The AAP Committee on Infectious Disease called out Dr. Robert Mendelsohn in a Red Book Update published in Pediatrics in 1982

Mendelsohn also appeared as an “expert” in Vaccine Roulette, falsely calling the pertussis vaccine “probably the poorest and most dangerous vaccine that we now have.” Of course, none of the claims against the DPT vaccine ended up being true, but we are still left with the DTaP vaccine which is less effective.

Although he wasn’t the last anti-vaccine pediatrician, he was the last to be formally called out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Jay Gordon, a celebrity pediatrician in California and Fellow of the AAP, appeared on Good Morning America with Cindy Crawford in 2000, saying afterwards that “They edited the segment to make me sound like a vaccination proponent. We also have to understand the impact of a person as well-known as Cindy Crawford delaying vaccines for over six months.”

Jay Gordon thinks infants should get vaccines slower, with fewer shots at one time.
Delaying vaccines and leaving infants at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease doesn’t make any sense to most pediatricians.

Since then, he has continued to push the idea that kids should get vaccines on a slower schedule, perhaps only getting one or two at a time.

Also in California, Dr. Bob Sears,  also a Fellow of the AAP, published his Vaccine Book in 2007, pushing his own alternative vaccine schedule and creating a list of vaccine-friendly pediatricians.

Bob's warning about not sharing their fears appeared in the first edition of his book.
Bob’s warning about not sharing their fears appeared in the first edition of his book.

Although the AAP hasn’t formally called out today’s disease friendly pediatricians by name, they have repeatedly stated that there are no alternative immunization schedules.

“There is no ‘alternative’ immunization schedule. Delaying vaccines only leaves a chil​d at risk of disease for a longer period of time; it does not make vaccinating safer. 

Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”

Karen Remley, MD, MBA, MPH, FAAP, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics​

And the AAP has said that the views of pediatricians who push alternative immunization schedules “are counter to scientific evidence and clearly they do not reflect Academy policy or recommendations.”

“No alternative vaccine schedules have been evaluated and found to provide better safety or efficacy than the recommended schedule, supported by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC and the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the AAP (the committee that produces the Red Book).

Pediatricians who routinely recommend limiting the numbers of vaccines administered at a single visit such that vaccines are administered late are providing care that deviates from the standard evidence-based schedule recommended by these bodies.”

Countering Vaccine Hesitancy

Are there others?

Unfortunately, there are.

“Most of my patients make the educated decision not to give one vaccine-hepatitis B – to their infants. This is because you catch hepatitis B from sex and IV drug use so if a child is born to a mother that does not have hepatitis B, the child is at no risk of getting this disease. Preschool and young school-aged children are not at risk for hepatitis B, which is why most countries in the developed world only recommend this vaccine for at-risk groups and not for everyone.”

Paul Thomas

Paul Thomas is another pediatrician and Fellow of the AAP who has written a book about vaccines that pushes his own alternative vaccine schedule.

And even though he has written a book about vaccines, it seems clear that he doesn’t really know which vaccines most countries in the developed world actually give to their kids.

Larry Palevsky spoke at an anti-vaccine rally in New York in the middle of a record setting measles outbreak.

Then there is Larry Palevsky, the pediatrician “who utilizes a holistic approach to children’s wellness and illness…”

Some folks are likely wondering how Larry Palevsky still has a medical license after the things he said at the so-called vaccine symposium in Rockland County this year. Yeah, that Rockland County with the longest active measles outbreak since the endemic spread of measles was declared eliminated.

“The pediatrician who spoke on Monday night, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, is regularly cited in pamphlets circulated in New York City that urge women not to get their children vaccinated. His views have no basis in science, experts said.”

Despite Measles Warnings, Anti-Vaccine Rally Draws Hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews

Most others who are familiar with things he has said in the past aren’t surprised by his statements though. After all, he was an “expert” for the anti-vaccination movie The Greater Good.

Are you really going to pay extra for a pediatrician that follows a made up schedule that leaves your kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease?
Are these alternative pediatricians encouraging parents to only give their kids one vaccine at a time?

And they are familiar with other holistic and integrative pediatricians who are obviously anti-vaccine.

What Makes a Pediatrician Anti-Vaccine?

Although none consider themselves anti-vaccine, preferring to think of themselves as pro-safe vaccine, pro-vaccine choice, or pro-informed consent, as they continue to push myths and misinformation about vaccines, it should be clear who they are and what they are doing.

No, a pediatrician isn’t anti-vaccine just because some of their patients follow a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule. They are anti-vaccine if they encourage parents to skip or delay vaccines, scaring them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“The American Acade​my of Pediatrics is dedicated to the principle of a meaningful and healthy life for every child. As an organization of physicians who care for infants, ​​children, adolescents, and young adults, the Aca​demy seeks to promote this goal by encouraging ​and assisting its members in their efforts to meet the overall health needs of children and youth; by providing support and counsel to others concerned with the well-being of children, their growth and development; and by serving as an advocate for children and their families within the community at large.”

preamble to AAP Constitution​​

It’s time that more pediatricians call them out, even if they aren’t members of the AAP, as we see more outbreaks and more parents following their advice, leaving more kids unvaccinated, unprotected, and at risk to get vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on the Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians

How Do Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information?

Ever wonder why most anti-vaccine folks don’t change their mind and get their kids vaccinated and protected when they “do their research” and “get educated” about vaccines?

You would think that they would, considering that anti-vaccine talking points are all based on myths and misinformation.

How Do Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information?

While some do change their mind, even before they are faced with an outbreak or their child getting sick, the biggest reason that others don’t is that they are stuck in an echo-chamber of like-minded folks.

This discussion is a good example of how this works.

The original poster wasn’t aware that measles was on the rise all over the world and that people are dying.

How do you respond to the fact that people are dying of measles?

So do they understand that reason behind the deaths is because those folks were unvaccinated?

Why didn’t “extreme poverty, poor nutrition, and a lack of sanitation” cause more measles deaths in Ukraine, Philippines, and Brazil before now?

Nope.

It’s always the vaccine with these folks…

It is anything and everything except that they weren’t vaccinated!

According to whom? You can actually go to the national health sites for each of these countries and find the data for yourself, if you were really interested in doing research.

And that they aren’t in America!

That’s not America… yet. Our measles cases are rising though and sooner or later we will start seeing measles deaths.

So what’s wrong with their thinking?

To start, these countries aren’t underdeveloped!

Brazil and the Philippines are newly industrialized countries and while Ukraine is considered a developing country, it is hardly the developing country without sanitation and nutrition that these folks make it out to be.

The problem in all of these countries isn’t a lack of nutrition, clean water, or health care. It is that too many folks are unvaccinated!

That becomes easier to see when you look at where else we are seeing a lot of measles deaths – the rest of Europe.

In the past 12 months, there have been 22 deaths from measles in Romania, Italy, France, and Greece.

Are folks in Italy suffering from malnutrition? Do they not have clean water?

There have been 64 deaths in Romania since there outbreaks started a few years ago.

Although Romania is a developing country, it isn’t a lack of clean water and sanitation that is causing measles deaths. It is that too many people in Romania are unvaccinated!

And too many people are listening to anti-vaccine propaganda.

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

More on How Anti-Vaccine Folks Respond to New Information

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