Tag: risks

Why Did Germany Make the MMR Vaccine Mandatory?

Have you seen the news about the new law that called for mandatory measles vaccination in Germany?

A new law that calls for mandatory measles vaccination in Germany.
Maybe we just need laws against this kind of misinformation about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases…

It’s true, although it certainly won’t cause “death and injury rates” to sky rocket.

Why Did Germany Make the MMR Vaccine Mandatory?

So why did it happen?

“Often, there is a lack of information or targeted disinformation that prevents people from getting themselves or their children vaccinated and exposure to avoidable health hazards.”

Opinion of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs, On the Quality and Safety of Vaccines

Germany has been one of the countries most affected by measles outbreaks in Europe over the past few years, with over 5,000 cases since 2015.

And at least three measles deaths, including an unvaccinated toddler. Plus additional deaths from SSPE.

This toddler in Germany who died in 2015 was not vaccinated for measles.
This toddler in Germany who died in 2015 was not vaccinated for measles.

And almost all of the cases are among those who are unvaccinated.

This led to the reestablishment of endemic measles virus transmission in Germany in 2017, even as we are supposed to be working towards eliminating measles.

So what does mandatory measles vaccination in Germany mean?

“The bill stipulates that all children from the age of one on entering the school or kindergarten must have the measles vaccine recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission. In the case of care by a childminder, proof of measles vaccination usually has to be provided.

The same applies to persons who work in community facilities or medical facilities such as educators, teachers, day care workers and medical staff (if these were born after 1970). Asylum seekers and refugees must also have the vaccine protection four weeks after admission to a shared accommodation.”

Vaccination is designed to protect children from measles

Passage of the Measles Protection Act (Masernschutzgesetz), which goes into effect on March 1, 2020, also means that parents can be fined up to €2,500 if they don’t vaccinate their children, daycare centers can be fined for admitting unvaccinated children, and certain unvaccinated workers, including healthcare workers, can be fined.

“Since measles vaccination is highly effective and very well tolerated, the German Ethics Council is of the opinion that every person is morally obliged to have him- or herself vaccinated against measles and, if applicable, to provide appropriate immunisation for his or her own children.”

Ethics Council: Increasing measles vaccination rate by a package of measures rather than by mandatory vaccination

While some oppose the law, including the German Ethics Council, it is important to note that few people see mandatory vaccination as the first step in getting folks vaccinated and protected. It is typically one of the last measures taken after everything else has failed and outbreaks are once again getting out of control, with people dying needlessly of an easily preventable disease.

Don’t want vaccine mandates to come to your community?

Then stop scaring people away from getting vaccinated and protected with misinformation and propaganda!

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

More on Mandatory Measles Vaccination in Germany

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

It’s a big deal that anti-vax groups are targeting minority communities.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Some of these communities already have low vaccination rates and have been hit with outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Anti-Vax Groups Are Targeting Minority Communities

Unfortunately, Bobby Kennedy and the latest Harlem Vaccine Forum isn’t the first time this has happened.

Remember when Andy Wakefield, JB Handley, and others targeted Somali immigrants in Minnesota?

How about when opponents of new vaccine laws in California targeted Latinos in the community?

Why is this a problem?

“Q: I do have a question, on behalf of the Hispanic media, and also the African-American media. Rates for vaccinations have been historically low. Could you tell us what those communities can do to try and raise those rates, please? And also, the issues that they’re facing?

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, MD: I think it’s very important that, number one, we reach out in ways to communicate with the minority communities in our country, and that we work with the leadership of those communities to actually educate those communities, bring them in, and to provide access, so that we can actually extend the benefit of vaccination to them. Colleagues?

PATRICIA WHITLEY-WILLIAMS, MD: I would certainly agree with that. I also would say, I am a member of the National Medical Association, which is an association predominantly of African-American physicians. We know about the disparities, with regards to vaccination coverage rates, both in adults and in children. But we also know about the deaths and severity of disease related to flu and pneumococcal infections; there is a disparity there, in terms of hospitalizations and deaths among underrepresented minorities in this country.

It is through education. It also depends on that relationship between adult patients and their providers. Again, there should be no opt-out. Patients need to understand that they’re tremendously at risk, and there is a disparity. As I think we all know, there is a historical context and a belief that exists in the African-American community, in terms of maybe mistrust of the medical system, because of experimentation that had gone on earlier. And again, it’s trying to provide that information and education through providers.”

National Foundation For Infectious Diseases (NFID) September 26, 2019

It is well known that many minority communities have low immunization rates.

“Since 1995, annual estimates of MMR vaccination coverage and poliovirus vaccination coverage increased among all children aged 19–35 months, and since 2007, disparities between racial/ethnic minorities and non-Hispanic white children for these vaccines has been nonexistent.”

Reduction of Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Vaccination Coverage, 1995–2011

Tragically, we are losing many of the gains that we had recently seen in reducing the gaps in vaccination among some racial/ethnic groups.

“HPV vaccine follow-through is lower in racial and ethnic minorities than Whites.”

Spencer et al on Disparities and reverse disparities in HPV vaccination: A systematic review and meta-analysis

In addition to children and teens, we are seeing growing disparities among adults too.

“On further examination, it is evident that some populations receive vaccinations at a level below other populations. For instance, 31% of Hispanic individuals received influenza vaccine in 2014 compared to 34.4% of African American and 46% of White Americans. This difference is also apparent in populations that receive pneumococcal and herpes zoster vaccines. These differences represent disparities in the use of nationally recommended vaccines.”

Anthony Pattin on Disparities in the Use of Immunization Services Among Underserved Minority Patient Populations and the Role of Pharmacy Technicians: A Review

We must continue to work to remove barriers to access to vaccination and encourage providers in these communities to get the message out that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

“There are many Latino and African-American physicians who have a practice that predominantly serves a population of the same ethnicity. We really rely on those providers to help us get the word out, as the press will. These patients trust their providers. We also need to involve community-based organizations to help us in getting the message out as well.”

Patricia Whitley-Williams, MD

Providers, especially in those communities that are being targeted, can improve vaccination rates by:

  • using standing orders, especially during flu season
  • using reminder and recall systems so that everyone knows when they are due for their vaccines
  • providing consumer-oriented information about vaccines to help overcome any negative perceptions, misinformation, and fears parents might have

Don’t allow anti-vaccine propaganda and misinformation to infect your community and make your job harder or put your kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on Vaccines and Minority Communities

How Jay Gordon On Bill Maher Helps Explain Our Anti-Vaccine Problems

Jay Gordon has been on TV a lot in his career.

“Parents from around Southern California choose Gordon for his outspoken and controversial stance on vaccinations, driving from as far away as Santa Barbara and Long Beach.

They know he will lend a sympathetic ear to their concerns about the possible adverse side effects of childhood vaccinations — even though several large scientific studies have failed to find a connection.

His openness to alternative approaches has earned him an avid following. With thousands of patients, his practice is so busy that he no longer accepts new patients.”

Los Angeles Times on Doctor Contrarian

Often described as a celebrity pediatrician, partly because he sees many of the kids of Hollywood celebrities, the Los Angeles Times once named him Doctor Contrarian.

How Jay Gordon On Bill Maher Helps Explain Our Anti-Vaccine Problems

Jay Gordon has become a bit of a celebrity in his own right too, with appearances on Good Morning America, with Cindy Crawford, the Ricki Lake Show, the Doctors, and he was even a regular on ABC TV’s Home Show back in the 1990s.

#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show.
#SaidNoDoctor, except Dr. Jay Gordon, who made this statement about the HPV vaccine on the Ricki Lake Show. How many kids ended up getting HPV because their parents listened?

Although he claims he is not anti-vaccine, Jay Gordon has made many other statements over the years that had vaccine advocates shaking their heads.

His main idea is that vaccines should be given on a slower schedule, just one or two at a time and that some shouldn’t be given until kids are “developmentally solid.”

Jay Gordon has no proof or evidence to back up any of his statements.
To clarify my statement, a severe reaction isn’t a reason to stop vaccinating a child all together.

Of course, giving vaccines later just leaves these kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease while they are waiting, without any extra benefit of fewer side effects.

Sure, we would see fewer reactions associated with vaccines, because the same conditions would be occurring, but the kids would not have gotten a vaccine to be associated with it.

Jay Gordon has been at the front lines of taking care of parents who don't want to vaccinate their kids.
His “front lines” are parents in Southern California who don’t want to vaccinate their kids…

Is Jay Gordon an expert on vaccines?

Jay Gordon dismisses the statements of a true vaccine expert.
Jay Gordon lists all of the credentials of Dr. Hotez, none of which he has, and then tells him he is wrong!

It should be clear that he is not.

“I talk much more quietly, because I have no proof.”

Jay Gordon

Talking on TV is not exactly talking quietly…

But let’s take a quick look at some of his statements on Real Time with Bill Maher to help those who might think that he is.

B. Maher: I’m just saying vaccines, like every medicine, has side effects… So let’s not deny that or pretend it doesn’t happen. Which ones? How much? How do we manage this? This is not crazy talk.

Jay Gordon: We don’t do it the way we should do it. Manufacturers don’t put… We don’t manufacture vaccines as well as we could. We have a schedule that is invariable for every single child, one size doesn’t really fit all. The polio vaccine that I would get as a 180 lb. man is the same that I give to a 12 lb. baby. We could do it a lot better. I don’t want to bring polio back. I don’t want to bring measles back. Measles is a nasty illness.

No one denies that vaccines have side effects. The thing is, vaccines do not cause each and every thing that anti-vax folks claim that they do. They don’t cause autism, SIDS, most non-febrile seizures, eczema, diabetes, MS, ADHD, asthma, cancer, food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, or POTS, etc.

What about Jay’s comments?

Interestingly, Jay has often said that measles isn’t that bad…

“This measles outbreak does not pose a great risk to a healthy child. And quite frankly I don’t think it poses any risk to a healthy child.”

Jay Gordon on Doctor explains why he lets kids avoid the measles vaccine

Healthy kids can just die with measles though. And healthy kids are at later risk to develop SSPE, which is fatal.

And if he doesn’t understand that vaccines aren’t given based on the weight of the child or adult, then he is clearly not a vaccine expert.

Jay Gordon believes that his middle of the road approach gets more kids vaccinated.
If you are scaring parents away from getting vaccinated, then giving vaccines on an alternative schedule may mean that you are anti-vaccine…

If he doesn’t understand the consequences of his slow vaccine schedule, especially if more parents actually started listening to him, then he is clearly not a vaccine expert.

Mostly, he seems to be an expert on pandering to parents who already have fears of vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Jay Gordon's middle of the road approach only works because his kids can still hide in the herd, getting protected from everyone else who vaccinates and protects their kids.
The kids that are vaccinated at “a different pace and thought process” are simply hiding in the herd. They don’t get sick because the rest of us are vaccinated and protected, but that system breaks down if more people start listening to Dr. Jay.

And what he has never understood, even if he does get some of these parents to vaccinate on a slower schedule, his rhetoric likely gets many more parents started on the road to thinking vaccines are harmful or not necessary.

Jay Gordon has been wrong before, as you can see in the way he has changed his stance on the HPV vaccine, which he says he now gives, and he is wrong now.

Why is Jay Gordon still in the AAP?

And his advise is indeed contrary to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which makes you wonder why he is still allowed to be a member.

“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​

Maybe its time that Doctor Contrarian stopped thinking everyone else is wrong and he takes a long and hard look at his own views on vaccines.

“Nothing I do is free. I feel like I should give you a little bit of a discussion before I recommend Tylenol, because of the impact on the liver. A discussion about ibuprofen, because of the impact on the kidneys. And when someone gets antibiotics from me, I talk to them. You know, there could be a yeast infection. You could get diarrhea and a rash. Sorry about the diarrhea and the rash. But with vaccines, the discussion is closed.”

Jay Gordon

Health care providers are hopefully all giving their patients a vaccine information sheet and informed consent, so the discussion is certainly not closed when they give kids vaccines.

Does Jay discuss the potential risks of delaying or skipping vaccines?

Will he say sorry about the rotavirus, measles, tetanus, and diphtheria?

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

Although he thinks he is taking the middle road, Jay Gordon simply helps fuel the modern anti-vaccine movement.

To be sure though, along the way, he certainly has been in the middle of things…

Jay Gordon was named Doctor Contrarian way back in 1997.
March 1997 article in the LA Times describing how media savvy “skeptics” were attacking vaccines.

From his appearance on Good Morning America in 2000 to discuss why Cindy Crawford wasn’t vaccinating her baby, just as Wakefield was getting started, to testifying against SB277, California’s vaccine law, that didn’t work because doctors simply started writing unnecessary medical exemptions, he has been there. And let’s not forget that he was Jenny McCarthy‘s pediatrician!

“I’m just saying, ‘we don’t know shit,’ that’s why when doctors, when you get a diagnosis, the other doctor gives you another one. They say, right away, get a second opinion.”

Bill Maher

Bill Maher was right about one thing, if you are going to Jay Gordon for advice about vaccines – get a second opinion.

More on Jay Gordon and Bill Maher

Getting Vaccinated to Protect Those Who Can’t Get the Vaccines

Most people get vaccinated because those vaccines have the direct benefit of reducing their risk of getting a life-threatening vaccine preventable disease. Protecting those who can’t get vaccines is a secondary benefit.

Should you get vaccinated to protect those who can't get the vaccines?
Does rationalizing your decision in anti-vax Facebook groups help you feel better that you are putting kids with cancer at greater risk to get sick?

A secondary benefit that anti-vax folks go to great lengths to convince themselves isn’t real and justify their decision to leave their kids unvaccinated and unprotected..

Getting Vaccinated to Protect Those Who Can’t Get the Vaccines

Of course, none of their explanations really hold water.

None of the vaccines that are routinely used on the CDC immunization schedule are a risk if you are around kids with cancer or other immunodeficiencies, except for FluMist and those with severe issues, like being in a bone marrow transplant unit.

One of the biggest misconceptions though, is that in getting vaccinated, parents are putting their own kids at great risk to protect someone else.

Don't set your kid on fire to keep mine warm!
Don’t set your kid on fire to keep mine warm!

Of course, that’s not true.

Remember, vaccines are safe, with few risks.

That why the analogy of setting their own kids on fire to keep others warm doesn’t make any sense.

After all, unlike vaccinating their own child, setting their child on fire offers them no benefit!

And they should understand that the one and only reason that their kids don’t get more vaccine-preventable diseases in this dog eat dog world is because the vast majority of us vaccinate and protect our kids.

Herd immunity is indeed real. In addition to protecting those who can’t be vaccinated, it protects the free-riders, those who just don’t want to get vaccinated.

What about the idea that it is unrealistic for folks who are immunocompromised to expect that they can lead normal lives and avoid infections?

You can't avoid all risks of infection, but why not avoid those that you can?

While it is true that there are other infections out there besides those that are vaccine-preventable, wouldn’t you want to at least reduce those risks that you can?

But could it be, as much as they seem to believe in shedding, that they think they are being altruistic in not vaccinating their kids?

Anti-vax folks are all about the shedding...
Anti-vax folks are all about the shedding

They aren’t.

In most cases, there are no restrictions on vaccinating people who have contact with those with immune system problems.

What about the idea that vaccines cause cancer?

Vaccines prevent cancer!
Vaccines prevent cancer!

That isn’t true. In fact, there are several vaccines that prevent cancer!

What other misconceptions do they have?

Most of the reasons folks use to avoid vaccines have been refuted a thousand times.
Most of the reasons folks use to avoid vaccines have been refuted a thousand times.

Let’s look at those last few issues…

  • vaccines are not associated with autism
  • vaccines aren’t perfect, but they do work very well
  • vaccines do help those with immune system problems, sometimes directly and more often because of herd immunity
  • people who have cancer are often vaccinated before they have chemo, but that protection gets wiped out during treatment and they can’t get caught up until after they have completed all of their treatments
  • kids with cancer might get some vaccines, but typically don’t get live vaccines

What about the idea that your unvaccinated child isn’t sick, so can’t get anyone else sick?

While that is a very common argument among anti-vax parents, it is very important that if your child is unvaccinated, then they are at much greater risk to catch a vaccine-preventable disease. And since you are often contagious even before you show symptoms, they might unknowingly expose many other people before they even realize that they are sick.

Hopefully you now understand it was never really a question.

That's why you get vaccinated, to protect those who can't get the vaccines!

Vaccinate and protect your kids.

If you don’t, in addition to putting them at risk to get sick, you put everyone around them at risk, including some who are at very high risk for severe complications from vaccine preventable diseases.

More on Risks from Unvaccinated Kids