Tag: safety

What Are the Risks of Vaccines?

Vaccines are very safe, but they are not 100% risk free.

They are certainly not as high risk as some anti-vaccine folks will have you believe though.

“Vaccine hesitation is associated with perceived risk. Since vaccine-preventable diseases are rare, an adverse event from a vaccine is perceived by the parent to be of greater risk. Risk perception is critical.”

AAP on Addressing Common Concerns of Vaccine-Hesitant Parents

And when you consider their great benefits, it is easy to see why the great majority of parents get their kids fully vaccinated and protected against all recommended vaccine-preventable diseases.

Risk Perception and Vaccine Hesitancy

Even though the risks and side effects of vaccines are very low, some people think that they are much higher. This is often amplified because of vaccine scare stories and the misinformation found on anti-vaccine websites.

“No intervention is absolutely risk free. Even the journey to a physician’s office with the intention to receive a vaccination carries the risk of getting injured in an accident. With regards to risks of vaccination per se, one has to distinguish between real and perceived or alleged risks.”

Heininger on A risk–benefit analysis of vaccination

Other problems with risk perception include that some people:

  • can be more likely to avoid risks that are associated with an action or having to do something vs. those that involve doing nothing or avoiding an action, even if inaction (skipping or delaying a vaccine) is actually riskier
  • often think about risks based on their own personal experiences (you remember someone’s vaccine injury story), rather than on scientific evidence

These biases in the way we think about risk can actually lead us to make risky choices and they help explain why some people are still so afraid of vaccines. Parents might think the risk of a possible side effect, some of which don’t even exist, is worse than the risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease, getting someone else sick, or starting an outbreak. Parents also often underestimate the risk of their decision to not vaccinate their child.

“As much previous research claims, this study confirms that individuals characterized by greater trust of healthcare professionals and the possession of more vaccine-related knowledge perceive higher levels of benefits and lower levels of risks from vaccinations.”

Song on Understanding Public Perceptions of Benefits and Risks of Childhood Vaccinations in the United States

So what’s the answer? It is likely for folks to get better educated about vaccines, including getting a good understanding of both their benefits and risks.

What Are the Risks of Vaccines?

Again, vaccines are not 100% safe or risk free.

Most vaccines have some common, mild side effects, which might include (depending on the vaccine):

Vaccine Information Statements from the CDC highlight the risks of each vaccine.
Vaccine Information Statements from the CDC highlight the risks of each vaccine.
  • fever, typically low-grade
  • redness or swelling where the shot was given
  • soreness or tenderness where the shot was given
  • fussiness
  • headache
  • tiredness or poor appetite
  • vomiting
  • mild rash
  • diarrhea
  • swollen glands

How commonly do they occur?

It depends on the vaccine and side effect, but they range from about 1 in 50 to 1 in 3 people. These side effects are typically mild and only last a day or two. And they don’t cause lasting problems.

While not all possible side effects are mild, those that are more moderate or severe are much more uncommon. Febrile seizures, for example, only happen after about 1 out of 3,000 doses of MMR and some other vaccines. And while scary, febrile seizures, crying for 3 hours or more, or having a very swollen arm or leg, some other uncommon vaccine side effects, also don’t cause lasting problems.

Fortunately, the most severe side effects, including severe allergic reactions, are only thought to happen in less than 1 out of a million doses. And although these types of severe reactions can be life threatening, they are often treatable, just like severe allergic reactions to peanuts. For others, like encephalitis, although they are table injuries, it isn’t clear that they are even side effects of vaccines, since they occur so rarely.

All of these side effects can be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), either by your doctor or yourself.

“No medical product or intervention, from aspirin to heart surgery, can ever be guaranteed 100% safe. Even though we will never be able to ensure 100% safety, we know that the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases by far outweigh those of the vaccines administered to prevent them.”

World Health Organization

In addition to side effects, some other risks of getting vaccinated might include that your vaccine didn’t work, after all, although vaccines work very well, they are not 100% effective. You might also, very rarely, be given the wrong vaccine or the right vaccine at the wrong time.

Many other things, including so-called vaccine induced diseases, aren’t actually a risk of vaccines at all. Remember, autism, SIDS, multiple sclerosis, and shaken-baby syndrome, etc., are not a risk of vaccines.

What to Know About the Risks of Vaccines

Any small risks of getting vaccinated, including side effects that are often mild, are not a good reason to think about skipping or delaying a vaccine, especially when you thoughtfully consider all of their great benefits.

More About the Risks of Vaccines

Who is Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld is an immunologist who heads the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases, which was created by Poju Zabludowicz. He is also on the scientific advisory board for the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute.

He claims to have discovered a novel vaccine-associated autoimmune disease – Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA).

The History of Adjuvant Diseases

Shoenfeld’s Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants is not the first time that adjuvants have been blamed for causing diseases in people.

As far back as 1964, Kan Miyoshi had written about “human adjuvant disease” following augmentation with silicone breast implants. Silicone gel-filled breast implants were eventually removed from the market, following case reports describing an association and years of lawsuits against manufacturers, but more studies were done that found that “there was no evidence that silicone breast implants caused systemic health effects such as cancer or autoimmune disease.”

So gel-filled breast implants came back, but unfortunately, the idea of “human adjuvant disease” never really went away.

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld and Vaccines

Dr. Shoenfeld is the latest to blame adjuvants for causing disease.

“At present, there is no evidence to suggest that ASIA syndrome is a viable explanation for unusual autoimmune diseases.”

David Hawkes on Revisiting adverse reactions to vaccines: A critical appraisal of Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA)

It has helped him to become very well known among the modern anti-vaccine movement, a hero to some, who use his new vaccine-associated autoimmune diseases as a reason to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

That’s despite the fact that ASIA has been rejected by the NVICP as a basis for vaccine injury and is dismissed by most medical experts.

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld Studies

Among the studies published by Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld include:

  • Human papilloma virus and lupus: the virus, the vaccine and the disease.
  • Journal of Autoimmunity. Seasonality and autoimmune diseases: The contribution of the four seasons to the mosaic of autoimmunity.
  • Current Opinions in Rheumatology. Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity.
  • Lupus.Autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (Shoenfeld’s syndrome) – An update.
  • Immunologic Research. Phospholipid supplementation can attenuate vaccine-induced depressive-like behavior in mice.
  • Behavioral abnormalities in female mice following administration of aluminum adjuvants and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil.
  • Immunologic Research. Pancreatitis after human papillomavirus vaccination: a matter of molecular mimicry.
  • Israel Medical Association Journal. Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Sjögren’s Syndrome.
  • Immunologic Research. Adjuvants and lymphoma risk as part of the ASIA spectrum.
  • Journal of Autoimmunity. Immunization with hepatitis B vaccine accelerates SLE-like disease in a murine model.
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia With Chronic Fatigue After HPV Vaccination as Part of the “Autoimmune/Auto-inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants”: Case Report and Literature Review.
  • Immunity, autoimmunity and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Lupus. When APS (Hughes syndrome) met the autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA).
  • Brief report: immune factors in autism: a critical review.

So, among the things that Shoenfeld seems to link to vaccine adjuvants include the development of primary ovarian insufficiency, depression, autism, pancreatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, subacute thyroiditis, antiphospholipid syndrome, transverse myelitis, lymphoma, POTS, and antiphospholipid antibody syndrome.

How does he do it? Mostly through experiments on mice and small case reports.

Also it seems, sometimes by a little misdirection.

“A cohort study was performed to assess the risk of new onset autoimmune disease in young women exposed to human papillomavirus-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine in the United Kingdom (55). The study reported an incidence rate ratio (95% CI) of 3.75 (1.25–11.31) for autoimmune thyroiditis among females.”

Yehuda Shoenfeld on Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity

Shoenfeld’s article on “Autoimmune/Inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants and Thyroid Autoimmunity,” actually cites a study which concluded that “There was no evidence of an increased risk of AD in women aged 9 to 25 years after AS04-HPV-16/18 vaccination.”

Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld Controversies

The CMSRI funded the research and sponsored the conference that showcased Shoenfeld's work.
The CMSRI funded the research and sponsored the conference that showcased Shoenfeld’s work.

Among the biggest problems with the work of Dr. Shoenfeld are claims that:

  • he receives funding for his research from the Children’s Medical Safety Research Institute, who’s founder once said that “Vaccines are a holocaust of poison on our children’s brains and immune systems.” Even his book, Vaccines and Autoimmunity, was funded by the CMSRI. His conferences are also sponsored by the CMSRI, including the International Congress on Autoimmunity and the International Symposium on Vaccines.
  • he seems to get many of his studies published in what experts describe as predatory open access journals
  • he seems to get many of his studies published in journals on which he sits on the journal’s editorial board, a potential conflict of interest, including Autoimmunity Reviews (founder and editor), the Journal of Autoimmunity (co-editor), and the Israel Medical Association Journal (founder and editor), Immunologic Research (topic editor for Immunoregulation and Autoimmunity), Lupus (Editorial Board). It is usually considered a better practice to get an outside editor in these situations, instead of editing your own articles.
  • at least one of the journals he edits, Autoimmunity Reviews, is said to be very sympathetic to anti-vaccine studies
  • he serves as an expert witness in vaccine injury lawsuits, another potential conflict of interest
  • at least one Shoenfeld study was retracted after it was published
  • none of his ASIA studies are in more high impact journals, such as The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, or Annual Review of Immunology, etc.
  • many of his collaborators are also funded by CMSRI

The biggest issue is that adjuvants in vaccines are being made to be seen as a problem by anti-vaccine folks, even as Shoenfeld claims that “vaccines are beneficial for the vast majority of subjects including those who suffer from autoimmune-rheumatic diseases,” and even he finds problems in only “a small minority of individuals.”

“It reminds us that due to the ubiquitous nature of the innate and adaptive response, that there are a large number of diseases that have either an inflammatory and/or specific autoimmune response, we have to keep an open eye because everything is potentially autoimmune until proven otherwise.”

Yehuda Shoenfeld on Everything is Autoimmune Until Proven Otherwise

It was another Shoenfeld study that suggested that the HPV vaccine could cause primary ovarian insufficiency. Shoenfeld’s “link” between the HPV vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency was based on a review of only three case studies, for which he was the expert witness in lawsuits for two of the cases!

Shoenfeld's article in Vaccine about behavioral problems after HPV vaccination was withdrawn because of serious concerns regarding the scientific soundness of the article.
Shoenfeld’s article in Vaccine about behavioral problems after HPV vaccination was withdrawn because of “serious concerns regarding the scientific soundness of the article.”

Most importantly, many studies have failed to confirm Shoenfeld’s link between the HPV vaccine and primary ovarian insufficiency and much of his other work:

Like his idea of novel vaccine-associated autoimmune disease (ASIA), which he still pushes, it was proven otherwise.

Dr. Shoenfeld Is on the Wrong Side of the Vaccine Debate

Dr. Shoenfeld’s characterization of the vaccine debate will likely surprise many of his followers.

“On the one hand, we find anti-vaccination movements, which divulge and disseminate misleading information, myths, prejudices, and even frauds, with the main aim of denying that vaccination practices represent a major public health measure, being effective in controlling infectious diseases and safeguarding the wellbeing of entire communities.”

Shoenfeld et al. on Debate on vaccines and autoimmunity: Do not attack the author, yet discuss it methodologically

His characterization that most vaccine safety research is potentially biased because it is “mainly financed and sponsored by pharmaceutical industries” is also surprising, or maybe just ironic, considering of where he gets his funding.

“Instead of focusing on methodological issues and content, the ‘‘prevailing wisdom” has put to rest any view that would contradict the sacred ‘‘doctrine” of vaccinology.”

Shoenfeld et al. on Debate on vaccines and autoimmunity: Do not attack the author, yet discuss it methodologically

His conclusions of why his studies are criticized are also very wrong.

“…we feel that the continued presentation of a theory without evidence in both medico-legal and scientific forums is detrimental to the exploration of further understanding of the causational factors of a patient’s condition.”

D. Hawkes et al. on Response to: HPV vaccine and autoimmunity

It is the “actual science” of his studies that is “being methodologically assessed and critiqued.” And it has been found to be lacking.

What To Know About Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

With funding from the CMSRI and the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld has folks falsely believing that adjuvants in vaccines are causing autoimmune diseases – his Autoimmune Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants (ASIA).

More About Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld

Vaccine Testing and Development Timeline and Myths

New vaccines must go through a long journey before they are finally approved by the FDA and get added to the recommended immunization schedule.

vaccine-dev-testing

Vaccine Testing and Development Myths

There are many myths and much misinformation surrounding vaccine testing and development that is used to scare parents away from vaccinating their kids.

Have you heard that vaccines aren’t tested together?

Or that flu vaccines or Tdap were never tested on pregnant women?

Then there are the myths about fast-tracking, and that important steps are skipped when a vaccine is on fast track for FDA approval, or that the whole vaccine testing and development process happens very quickly.

Vaccine Testing and Development Timeline

The vaccine development process is anything but quick.

“Vaccine development is a long, complex process, often lasting 10-15 years and involving a combination of public and private involvement.”

The History of Vaccines on Vaccine Development, Testing, and Regulation

During this time of the exploratory and pre-clinical stage research and then phase 1,2, and 3 trails, vaccines are:

  • tested on animals
  • tested on small groups of people
  • tested on larger groups of people
  • tested alone
  • tested together with other vaccines
  • tested for safety
  • tested for efficacy (to make sure they work)

This often includes double-blind, placebo controlled vaccine trials.

Fast tracking does speed the process up, but not because any of the testing is skipped. The researchers just get more frequent meetings and communication with the FDA and “Eligibility for Accelerated Approval and Priority Review, if relevant criteria are met.”

“Vaccine development is a complex multidisciplinary activity, combining understanding of host-pathogen interactions at the molecular level, with clinical science, population-level epidemiology and the biomechanical requirements of production.”

Anthony L. Cunningham, et al on Vaccine development: From concept to early clinical testing

Testing doesn’t stop once a vaccine is approved by the FDA and is added to the immunization schedule either. We often continue to see testing for vaccine safety and efficacy using phase 4 trials and with our post-licensure vaccine safety system, including VAERS and the Vaccine Safety Datalink.

And of course testing continues long after we begin using vaccines to see how long their protection will last. For example, because of continued testing, we now know that Gardasil and Cervarix are providing protection that lasts at least 8 and 9 years.

What To Know About Vaccine Testing and Development

From pre-clinical studies and years of phase 1, 2, and 3 trials to continued monitoring after a vaccine is approved and added to the immunization schedule, the vaccine testing and development process helps make sure that vaccines are safe and that they work.

More About Vaccine Testing and Development

Underreporting of Side Effects to VAERS

Vaccine injuries and side effects should be reported to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Reporting Side Effects to VAERS

The CDC advises that “all significant adverse events that occur after vaccination of adults and children, even if you are not sure whether the vaccine caused the adverse event.”

Are they?

Unfortunately, no.

Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.
Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.

 

While both doctors and parents can report these side effects, they don’t always get reported.

Underreporting of Side Effects to VAERS

Still, although reports to VAERS are underreported, they are almost certainly not underreported by as much as some folks believe.

Have you heard the claim that only 1% of serious vaccine reactions are reported to VAERS?

That’s not true.

That claim is based on an old study about drug reactions and was not specific to vaccines.

We also know that underreporting is less common for more severe adverse reactions than for those that are more mild. For example, one study found that up to 68% of cases of vaccine-associated poliomyelitis (a table injury) were reported to VAERS, while less than 1% of episodes of rash following the MMR vaccine were reported.

That’s not to say that only severe or serious adverse reactions should be reported.

But since VAERS watches “for unexpected or unusual patterns in adverse event reports,” it still works even if each and every side effect isn’t reported.

VAERS Works

Reports to VAERS are underreported.

VAERS still works well though.

Again, that’s because VAERS doesn’t need each and every adverse event to be reported for the system to work and to help it identify vaccines that might not be safe.

“Despite its limitations, VAERS effectively detected a possible problem soon after introduction of RRV-TV in the United States.”

Lynn R. Zanardi, et al on Intussusception Among Recipients of Rotavirus Vaccine: Reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System

We saw that with the RotaShield vaccine. After nearly 20 years of research, the first rotavirus vaccine was approved by the FDA on August 31, 1998. About seven months later, in March 1999, the ACIP published their formal recommendations that all infants get RotaShield on a three dose schedule, when they are two, four, and six months old.

By June 11, 1999, VAERS had received 12 reports of intussusception related to the RotaShield vaccine and by July 13, its use was temporarily suspended, as the CDC continued to investigate.

Once the CDC announced the temporary suspension, even more reports of intussusception after RotaShield were made to VAERS. Those extra reports likely mean that intussusception was being underreported initially, but it still triggered the temporary suspension and extra studies that eventually got the manufacturer to withdraw the vaccine.

“VAERS is used to detect possible safety problems – called “signals” – that may be related to vaccination. If a vaccine safety signal is identified through VAERS, scientists may conduct further studies to find out if the signal represents an actual risk.”

CDC on How VAERS is Used

Early signals in VAERS also helped detect a very small increase in the risk of febrile seizures among toddlers who got the 2010-11 flu vaccine combined with either Prevnar or a DTaP vaccine.

Also keep in mind that VAERS isn’t the only system that helps to monitor vaccine safety. We also have the Vaccine Safety Datalink project, the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network, and the Vaccine Analytic Unit.

What to Know About Underreporting of Side Effects to VAERS

Even though underreporting of side effects to VAERS is an issue, because VAERS works by looking at early signals and trends, it still works well to identify possible safety problems from vaccines.

More About Underreporting of Side Effects to VAERS

Are Vaccines Tested Together?

If you are on the Fence about vaccines, one issue that might have you scared is that the idea that vaccines aren’t tested together.

So maybe they tested the Prevnar vaccine, but did they test it with the Hib vaccine?

And did they test the Prevnar and Hib vaccine with the Pediarix vaccine?

After all, kids get all of those vaccines at their two, four, and six month well child checkups.

Vaccines Are Tested Together

It is not hard to find evidence that most combinations of vaccines are in fact tested together.

For example (and this is not a complete list):

  • Rotarix was tested with Pediarix (DTaP-HepB-IPV), Prevnar, and Hib
  • Prevnar 13 was tested with DTaP, IPV, hepatitis B and Hib
  • Prevnar 13 was tested with MMR, Varicella, and hepatitis A
  • MenC with DTaP-IPV-HepB-Hib
  • MenC with MMR
  • MMR and Varicella with Hib, Hepatitis B, and DTaP
  • hepatitis A and hepatitis B with either MMR or DTaP-IPV-Hib
  • HPV vaccine for babies
  • Flumist with MMR and Varicella
  • Kinrix (DTaP-IPV) with MMR and Varicella
  • HPV9 with Tdap and Meningococcal vaccines
  • Tdap with influenza vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine with influenza vaccine

And even after a vaccine is added to the immunization schedule and it is given together with other vaccines, our post-licensure vaccine safety monitoring systems, from VAERS to the Vaccine Safety Datalink, kick in to make sure that they are indeed safe and effective.

The Myth That Vaccines Aren’t Tested Together

If it is clear that vaccines are in fact tested together, then why do some folks still believe that they aren’t?

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

Hopefully everyone sees the irony in Dr. Bob saying something about vaccines being untested, as he is infamous for pushing his own made up and completely untested alternative vaccine schedule.

“Babies get as many as 6 or 7 vaccines altogether…and the CDC is admitting that they don’t always research them that way.”

Dr. Bob Sears on Fox & Friends Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

When did they admit that???

“We’ve researched the flu vaccine in great detail and it seems safe when it’s given alone, but the CDC has never researched the flu vaccine when you give it in conjunction with all the other infant shots…and that’s what we’re worried about. ”

Dr. Bob Sears on Fox & Friends Vaccines: A Bad Combination?

So, what about the flu vaccine?

A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine found that there was no evidence that vaccines caused ADHD.
A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine stated that “Each new vaccine considered for inclusion in the immunization schedule is tested within the context of the existing schedule and reviewed by clinical researchers, who analyze the balance of demonstrated benefits and risks.”

While most kids get their flu vaccine by itself, just before the beginning of flu season, some might get it when they see their pediatrician for a regular checkup, at the same time they are due for other vaccines.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Bob was wrong, and several studies have shown that the flu vaccine can be safely given with other vaccines.

And don’t forget, any problems with co-administration of vaccines would show up in post-licensure vaccine safety testing.

That’s how a very small increased risk of febrile seizures was found during the 2010-11 flu season in toddlers who received either DTaP or Prevnar and a flu shot at the same time.

The very small extra risk doesn’t mean that you still can’t get the vaccines at the same time if your child needs them all though. Remember that febrile seizures “are temporary and do not cause any lasting damage.”

It will be even more reassuring to some parents that another study “examined risk of febrile seizures (FS) after trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) and 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) during the 2010-2011 influenza season, adjusted for concomitant diphtheria tetanus acellular pertussis-containing vaccines (DTaP)” and found no extra risk for febrile seizures.

“Vaccines can generally be co-administered (i.e. more than one vaccine given at different sites during the same visit). Recommendations that explicitly endorse co-administration are indicated in the table, however, lack of an explicit co-administration recommendation does not imply that the vaccine cannot be co-administered; further, there are no recommendations against co-administration.”

Summary of WHO Position Papers – Recommendations for Routine Immunization

Also remember that “there are no recommendations against co-administration of vaccines,” unless of course, you are getting your advice from Bob Sears…

 

What To Know About Vaccines Being Tested Together

Vaccines are thoroughly tested for both safety and efficacy and they are also tested in many of the different combinations on the routine childhood immunization schedule.

More On Vaccines Being Tested Together

Are You on the Fence About Vaccines?

If you have doubts about vaccinating your kids, but you are still doing research, then you are probably what people like to call a fence sitter.

On the Fence About Vaccines

Folks who are on the fence haven’t made a decision yet and are torn between what they see as two difficult options.

In this case, the two options we are talking about are:

  1. vaccinate your kids
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids

What makes those options difficult?

If you spend a little time on the Internet, those two options get complicated quickly and can turn into:

  1. vaccinate your kids – exposing them to toxins and all kinds of vaccine-induced diseases, from autism to SIDS
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids – risking a deadly disease because they are unvaccinated or the possibility that someone will come and force you to get them vaccinated

How do you figure out the truth to help you make the right decision for your family?

The Truth Behind Your Vaccine Decision

Most parents vaccinate their kids on time and on schedule.

These books about vaccines can help with your research about vaccinating and protecting your family.
These vaccine books can help you make the right decision if you are on the fence about vaccines.

Do they all have a hard time making their decision?

Most don’t.

They understand the risks their children face if they aren’t vaccinated.

“When a well-meaning parent like Jenny McCarthy blames vaccines for her child’s autism, placing the fear of God into every parent who has a baby, it’s not only irresponsible – it’s dangerous. Why? It’s simple math: vaccines are less effective when large numbers of parents opt out. And the more who opt out, the less protected ALL our children are.

Celebrity books come and go . . . but the anxiety they create lives on in pediatricians’ offices across the country. A small, but growing number of parents are even lying about their religious beliefs to avoid having their children vaccinated, thanks in part to the media hysteria created by this book.”

Ari Brown, MD responding to Jenny McCarthy appearing on Oprah

That’s not to say that they don’t think about their decision to vaccinate their kids. Or even think twice about it.

But in the end, they know that:

  • vaccines work – even if they aren’t perfect and waning immunity is an issue with a few vaccines
  • vaccines are safe – even if they do have some side effects, which can rarely be severe
  • vaccines are necessary – without them, we would end up in like it was in the pre-vaccine era, even with modern health care, nutrition, and sanitation, etc.

And they know that their decision might affect others around them.

If your research about vaccines has pushed you off the wrong side of the fence and into your pediatrician’s office with a copy of Dr. Bob’s vaccine book demanding an alternative immunization schedule, then you might want to do a little more research.

Misinformed Consent

Most importantly, parents who choose to vaccinate their kids don’t believe the myths and conspiracy theories that might lead them to skip or delay any recommended vaccines.

“If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, it didn’t get there by accident.”

President Bill Clinton

Ironically, the anti-vaccine “experts” and websites that scare some parents often talk about choice and informed consent.

Understand though, that by exaggerating the risks of vaccines and vaccine injury (no, vaccines are not full of toxins), playing down the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (no, they are not mild diseases that should be thought of as a rite of passage), and ignoring the benefits of vaccines (yes, vaccines do work), they are violating the basic tenets of informed consent themselves.

And that limits your ability to make the right choice for your family.

Making the Right Decision About Vaccines

There is nothing wrong with asking questions and being skeptical about the answers you get.

No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.
No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.

With all of the things you see and hear about vaccines, there is nothing wrong with being a little scared and wanting to do more research, instead of blindly following the advice of your pediatrician.

But remember that if you are going to be skeptical and are not going to blindly follow the advice of someone you know and maybe trust, then don’t blindly believe everything you read on the Internet that says vaccines are bad.

“My husband and I agreed we would just not have our new baby vaccinated until she was at least 1 year old, which seemed like enough time to continue looking for information. Also, we were not concerned that she was at risk of contracting any serious childhood illnesses.

We were wrong.

A week before our baby girl’s first birthday, she was feverish and listless. When she refused to nurse for 24 hours, I took her to see our pediatrician. She was hurriedly admitted to intensive care with the diagnosis of spinal meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae, type B, which is a vaccine-preventable disease.”

Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice

Suzanne Walther discovered that “it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”

What questions did she want answers to?

  • Are vaccines really effective at preventing diseases? – Yes, although they aren’t 100% effective, vaccines do work well at preventing and controlling 16 different vaccine-preventable diseases on our childhood immunization schedule. And yes, vaccines did help eliminate smallpox and herd immunity is real.
  • How are vaccines made? – Vaccines are made in a multi-step process that begins with generating the antigens that will go in the vaccine and then moves to releasing and isolating the antigen from the growth medium, purifying the antigen, strengthening and stabilizing the vaccine, and then combining it all into the final vaccine. Unlike videos you may have seen on the Internet, there is nothing scary about this very scientific process.
  • Are they tested for safety? – Vaccines are extensively tested in Phase I, II, and III trials before they are approved and added to the immunization schedule. This entire vaccine development process may take as long as 10 to 15 years.
  • Are there ongoing clinical trials to rule out the possibility that vaccines cause diseases later in life? – Yes, after vaccines are approved and are added to the immunization schedule, ongoing Phase IV studies continue to monitor their safety and efficacy. In addition, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project, and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) help make sure vaccines are safe after they are approved.
  • Have allegations of adverse reactions been studied and confirmed or refuted? – Yes. In addition to several Institute of Medicine Vaccine reports, study after study have shown that vaccines don’t cause autism, SIDS, ASIA, or any of the other vaccine induced diseases “they” come up with.
  • And, last but not least, where can I get truthful, clear answers to my questions? – In addition to your pediatrician, there are plenty of vaccine books, sites, and groups that can help you get educated about vaccines.

Today, she might also have had questions about package inserts, aluminum, MTHFR mutations, shedding, vaccine mandates, the CDC Whistleblower, and the HPV vaccine. These and a hundred more have been answered over and over again.

Suzanne Walther learned about vaccines the hard way – after her infant contracted Hib meningitis, a vaccine-preventable disease. She also discovered that you can sometimes delay or wait too long to vaccinate your child.

What will you do to be well informed and to make sure you are making the right choice?

What to Know If You Are on the Fence About Vaccines

It is easy to be misinformed about vaccines, especially if you are on the fence and aren’t sure what to do. Get educated and and be sure you are making the right decision for your family.

More About One the Fence About Vaccines

National Immunization Awareness Month

This year, we celebrate the 17th annual National Immunization Awareness Month.

History of National Immunization Awareness Month

The National Partnership for Immunization first designated August as National Immunization Awareness Month in 2001.

“NIAM was officially announced to the media and the immunization community with a kickoff event at the National Press Club on August 1, 2001. Key stakeholders, including maternal and child health professionals, immunization advocates and policymakers participated in a press conference and reception in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the initiation of this yearly event.”

Are you up-to-date? Vaccinate! An early theme of National Immunization Awareness Month.
Are you up-to-date? Vaccinate! An early theme of National Immunization Awareness Month.

In addition to giving awards to a few members of Congress, the TV show ER got a media award at the first National Immunization Awareness Month because the show “portrayed the importance of vaccinations using the story of an unvaccinated child who was sent to the emergency room and subsequently died from measles. The episode effectively relayed the important messages that measles still occurs in this country, that the disease can be deadly and that it can be prevented by immunization.”

In 2006, the CDC “took over” National Immunization Awareness Month, continuing NPI’s campaign focused around the theme, “Are You Up to Date? Vaccinate!”

Unfortunately, the CDC didn’t really sponsor the month. They just recognized that it was happening on their website…

“While CDC does not sponsor this month, CDC does support and encourage the efforts of state and local health departments and other immunization partners to celebrate NIAM and use this month to promote back to school immunizations, remind college students to catch up immunizations before they move into dormitories, and remind everyone that the influenza season is only a few months away. It’s a great reminder to our nation that people of all ages require timely immunization to protect their health.”

It wasn’t until 2013 that National Immunization Awareness Month really came back.

That’s when the National Public Health Information Coalition started coordinating NIAM activities, including key messages, sample media materials, social media content, and event ideas to:

  • Encourage parents of young children to get recommended immunizations by age two
  • Help parents make sure older children, preteens, and teens have received all recommended vaccines by the time they go back to school
  • Remind college students to catch up on immunizations before they move into dormitories
  • Educate adults, including healthcare workers, about vaccines and boosters they may need
  • Educate pregnant women about getting vaccinated to protect newborns from diseases like whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Remind everyone that the next flu season is only a few months away

In 2014, NIAM began to also focus on a different stage of the lifespan each week, from infants, children and teens to pregnant women and adults.

National Immunization Awareness Month 2017

What’s going on in #NIAM17?

In addition to adding a ‘Back to School’ category for school age children that lasts throughout the month to make sure kids are ready for school, NAIM17 continues with different themes each week:

  • Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary. Vaccines work. These are good messages to learn in NIAM17.
    Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are necessary. Vaccines work. These are good messages to learn in NIAM17.

    Babies and Young Children: A healthy start begins with on-time vaccinations. (July 31-August 6)

  • Pregnant Women: Protect yourself and pass protection on to your baby. (August 7-13)
  • Adults: Vaccines are not just for kids. (August 14-20)
  • Preteens/Teens: Ensure a healthy future with vaccines. (August 21-27)

Are your kids up-to-date?

National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to get educated about vaccines and learn that:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives.
  • Vaccines are very safe.

It’s also a good time to learn how to avoid getting scared by anti-vaccine talking points and the misinformation pushed by the anti-vaccine movement.

What To Know About National Immunization Awareness Month

National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to learn why vaccinating and protecting your family is an important and safe decision.

More About National Immunization Awareness Month

Save