Tag: risk

Bad Vaccine Analogies

Analogies can help explain how vaccines work, especially good vaccine analogies.

Not having a cookie doesn’t make you immune to getting cookies…
Not having a cookie doesn’t make you immune to getting cookies from someone else…

They can also help explain how folks who do not support vaccines think.

Bad Vaccine Analogies

I wonder if all of their bad analogies will end up on tee shirts…

Would you use a parachute that was only 9% effective? Or would you just jump out of the plane and hope you can fly?
Would you use a parachute that was only 9% effective? Or would you just jump out of the plane and hope you can fly?

What do you think of Larry Cook’s analogy?

To be fair, the flu vaccine, in some years, can be as low as 9% effective.

Does that mean you can compare it to using a condom, parachute, or alarm clock that is only 9% effective?

How about this scenario:

You are on a plane that is about to crash and there is something wrong with the only parachute that is left on board. You inspect the stitching but estimate that you only have a 9% chance that it will deploy and get you to the ground safely. There is no backup parachute. Do you use it anyway, jump out without it and see if you can fly, or take your chances in a plane that is barreling towards the ground?

In most other situations, unless it is a life and death situation, you wouldn’t risk using a parachute that was only 9% effective. But what if that was your only option?

What if there is only a 9% chance that the parachute will get you to the ground without any injury, but a 80 to 90% chance that it will get you to the ground without dying? Would you use it then?

Would you use an alarm clock that was only 9% effective? No. I’ll set the timer on my phone to wake me up…

And that’s why we sometimes get a flu vaccine that is far less than 100% effective.

What’s the alternative?

Being unprotected and at a higher risk to get a severe case of the flu.

More Bad Vaccine Analogies

Larry Cook isn’t the only one to come up with bad vaccine analogies.

Why would you let your kid eat a poisoned cupcake?
Why would you let your kid eat a poisoned cupcake?

Of course, vaccinating and protecting your kids is not analogous to giving them a poisoned cupcake.

While vaccines are not risk free, serious reactions are extremely rare.

In fact, for this analogy to make even a little sense, you would have to have one million kids eating one million cupcakes.

Even then, the analogy falls apart.

Who would give their kid a cupcake if there was a chance that it was intentionally poisoned, even if the risk is just one in a million?

What’s the benefit of eating the cupcake?

Is this the last cupcake on earth? Is your child starving and is this cupcake the only thing he can eat? Is it a magic cupcake that can cure them of a life-threatening disease?

We vaccinate our kids, even if there is a one in a million chance of a severe, life-threatening reaction, because of all of the benefits they get from being vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are not 100% safe, but they have few risks, and are safer than getting the diseases they protect us against.
Vaccines are not 100% safe, but they have few risks, and are safer than getting the diseases they protect us against.

How about all of the vaccine analogies about cars and seat belts?

Anti-vax folks like bad car and seat belt analogies.
Anti-vax folks like bad car and seat belt analogies.

Why don’t we call people who push for safer cars anti-car?

Jay Gordon doesn't think that that he is anti-vaccine.
Jay Gordon doesn’t think that that he is anti-vaccine.

Do these car safety advocates tell people to stop riding in cars or that a safe car can never be made?

Wanting safer vaccines doesn't make you anti-vaccine.
Wanting safer vaccines doesn’t make you anti-vaccine.

Do they say that kids will be hurt every time they ride in a car? Do they tell parents to just drive one day a week or one block a month?

Peanut butter or the plague??? Vaccine advocates aren't immune to bad vaccine analogies...
Peanut butter or the plague??? Vaccine advocates aren’t immune to bad vaccine analogies…

Unlike folks who are anti-vaccine, those who want safer cars generally still drive and ride in cars!

Making Sense of Vaccine Analogies

Have you heard the folks who say that they won’t set their kids on fire to keep someone else warm? They somehow think this is analogous to getting vaccinated and keeping herd immunity levels up to protect those who can’t be vaccinated.

No one wants to set your child on fire...
No one wants to set your child on fire…

You understand why that’s a bad analogy, right?

In addition to protecting others because your child doesn’t get sick and won’t expose them to a life-threatening disease, by vaccinating and protecting them, your own child doesn’t get sick!

Unlike setting your child on fire, it’s a win-win deal.

Well, it’s a win-win unless you believe classic arguments against vaccines, such as vaccines are poison or that vaccines don’t really work to prevent disease.

And maybe that’s why these bad analogies actually do work very well for some of these folks. They believe the misinformation and propaganda that help prop them up.

More on Bad Vaccine Analogies

How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History

Can you believe that there were only 37 measles cases in 2004?

This year, we sometimes get reports of 37 cases in a week.

What happened?

A rise in measles cases all over the world happened. And since folks do travel, that led to outbreaks in any community that doesn’t have high rates of vaccination.

How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History

And that’s where the PEACH Vaccine Safety Handbook comes into play.

Since at least 2014, the PEACH project folks and have been distributing their magazines filled with misinformation about vaccines in Orthodox Jewish communities.

In addition to Lakewood, the PEACH magazine was sent to “a mailing list that included a comprehensive directory of Pittsburgh families affiliated with various branches of Orthodoxy.”

And it found its way to Brooklyn and other Orthodox communities. Many of the same communities where we are now seeing the largest measles outbreaks in recent history, although there are plenty of outbreaks in other places too.

Surprisingly, PEACH is pure PRATT – anti-vaccine points refuted a thousand times.

Folks really should read the package insert of vaccines and should understand what they say. They don’t say that vaccines are associated with autism.

The cartoons were a nice touch, but should have been a tip-off that none of it was true! There is even a cartoon about the HAZMAT myth.

It all does look very official and sounds scary though, so it is easy to see how parents could be mislead by the magazine, especially when they seem to cite references for all of their “facts.”

This PEACH timeline was originally posted on several anti-vaccine websites back in 2007…

But let’s look at some of the facts in the above timeline:

  • is there any reason why Germany might have seen a rise in diphtheria cases in 1945?
  • Ghana was not declared measles-free in 1967. Unfortunately, Ghana is still not measles-free…
  • while the SV40 virus did contaminate some polio vaccines, it has not been associated with causing cancer or any other problems
  • whooping cough cases rose in Sweden and the UK because they stopped using the DPT vaccine in the late 1970s and 80s over fears of side effects. Of course, we now know that these fears were unfounded and many kids suffered because those fears were hyped by a few doctors, the media, and players from the start of the modern anti-vaccine movement
  • frivolous lawsuits over DPT side effects is what led to the rise in DPT prices
  • Jonas Salk testified that “mass inoculation against polio was the cause of most polio cases in the USA since 1961” because the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines had already controlled wild polio in the United States!!!
  • What about the idea that “the February 1981 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 90% of obstetricians and 66% of pediatricians refused to take the rubella vaccine?” That’s actually kind of true. But it was just a survey of a small number of employees at Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center, most of whom believed that they actually were immune because they had likely been exposed to rubella so much in the past.

The rest of the magazine continues with the same kind of propaganda, trying to make folks think that vaccines don’t work, vaccines aren’t necessary, and that vaccines are dangerous.

Their experts?

From Russell Blaylock and Mark Geier to Tim O’Shea and Sherri Tenpenny, it is a who’s who of the worst folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement. They are certainly not the kind of folks you should be turning to for advice about vaccines, or anything else.

I wonder what they say about Shaken Baby Syndrome? Is it a vaccine injury too?!?

As we have seen with these growing measles outbreaks, although it makes a catchy slogan, you can’t always vaccinate later. You can wait until it is too late.

“I can only conjecture. But it has to be a combination a propensity towards conspiracy theories and religiosity gone awry based on bad information and in my view a gross misunderstanding of Halacha.”

AntiVaxxers – Religious Views Gone Awry

And that’s how you end up with the longest lasting measles outbreak in the United States in nearly 20 years.

More on How an Anti-Vaccine Safety Handbook Has Caused the Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent History

How to Become a Vaccine Advocate

Are you tired of reading about outbreaks that might put your family at risk, either because they are too young to be vaccinated, fully vaccinated, or because they have a true medical condition that keeps them from being vaccinated?

Brittney Kara, who once wondered why vaccines weren’t mentioned in the Bible, gets a lot of other things wrong too.

Are you especially tired of reading about these outbreaks while friends and family members post anti-vaccine propaganda on Facebook that you know isn’t true?

How to Become a Vaccine Advocate

It is time to speak up and speak out against anti-vaccine misinformation.

It’s time to become a vaccine advocate.

Most importantly, post and share stories when you or your family get a vaccine!

Share your #flushotselfie and let folks know you got vaccinated and protected.
Share your #flushotselfie and let folks know you got vaccinated and protected.

And be skeptical when you see or hear something that is anti-vaccine, especially when they are talking about toxins, vaccine-induced diseases, Big Pharma, vaccine choice, mandatory vaccination, the benefits of natural immunity, or when they are trying to sell you their books, videos, seminars, or supplements.

If nothing else, drop a link to the vaxopedia whenever someone posts something about vaccines that you just know isn’t true.

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Is the Meningococcal Vaccine More Dangerous Than Meningococcal Disease?

No one who has ever seen a child with meningococcal disease would ever think that it was even remotely possible that getting a meningococcal vaccine was more dangerous than getting the disease.

“The case-fatality ratio of meningococcal disease is 10% to 15%, even with appropriate antibiotic therapy. The case-fatality ratio of meningococcemia is up to 40%. As many as 20% of survivors have permanent sequelae, such as hearing loss, neurologic damage, or loss of a limb.”

Epidemiology of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (PinkBook)

Of course, that doesn’t stop anti-vaccine folks from spreading misinformation about these vaccines to try and scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Is the Meningococcal Vaccine More Dangerous Than Meningococcal Disease?

We actually vaccinate against meningitis with many different vaccines, including Hib, Prevnar, MMR, and the meningococcal vaccines.

And there are different types of meningococcal vaccines, including those that protect against Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, W, Y and Men B.

Meningococcal vaccines are safe and effective against meningococcemia and meningococcal meningitis, both terrible diseases.
Meningococcal vaccines are safe and effective against meningococcemia and meningococcal meningitis, both terrible diseases.

So routine vaccinations likely prevent up to 500 meningitis deaths each year, just in the United States, including many deaths from Hib meningitis, pneumococcal meningitis, and meningococcal disease.

“During 2005-2011, an estimated 800-1,200 cases of meningococcal disease occurred annually in the United States, representing an incidence of 0.3 cases per 100,000 population.”

Epidemiology of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (PinkBook)

What about the idea that 1 in 100 people will have a serious reaction to the vaccine?

“The most frequently reported adverse events for MenACWY-D include fever (16.8%), headache (16.0%) injection site erythema (14.6%), and dizziness (13.4%). Syncope was reported in 10.0% of reports involving MenACWY-D. Of all reported MenACWY-D events, 6.6% were coded as serious (i.e., resulted in death, life-threatening illness, hospitalization, prolongation of hospitalization, or permanent disability). Serious events included headache, fever, vomiting, and nausea. A total of 24 deaths (0.3%) were reported.”

Epidemiology of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (PinkBook)

The serious events listed above were from the clinical trials for the vaccine and didn’t differ between the vaccine and placebo.

Although meningococcal vaccines can have frequent mild side effects, they very rarely have serious side effects.

Not everything that happens during a clinical trial is related to the vaccine, even though it still gets reported. Another Menactra trial reported no deaths and the serious adverse events that were reported weren’t related to getting vaccinated.

Here is another meningococcal study in which a few of the participants died – one in a car accident and the other a drug overdose.

These deaths were not related to getting vaccinated, but were listed because they occurred during the study.
These deaths were not related to getting vaccinated, but were listed because they occurred during the study.

Unfortunately, vaccines can’t protect you from everything…

It would be especially nice if they could protect us from bad anti-vaccine memes.

More on Meningococcal Vaccine Safety