Tag: safety

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Payouts Prove that Vaccines are Dangerous

Have you heard this argument?

Misinformation about the NVICP, like from this Focus for Health article, likely helps confuse and scare many parents.
Misinformation about the NVICP, like from this Focus for Health article, likely helps confuse and scare many parents.

Apparently, some folks think that because we have a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that compensates those who have serious problems after a vaccine, even deaths, then it must mean that vaccines are dangerous.

Do the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Payouts Prove that Vaccines are Dangerous?

To most other people, that argument doesn’t hold water.

Why?

Because we know that:

  • the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions
  • of over 3.1 billion doses of vaccines that were distributed in the United States between 2006 and 2016, there were 3,749 compensated claims through the NVICP
  • almost 80% of all compensated awards by the NVICP come as a “result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.”
  • the NVICP settlements are funded by an excise tax on vaccines
  • the NVICP cases are published by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, so all information is disclosed to the public and no safety concerns are hidden

So what does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) really prove?

It proves that true vaccine injuries are very rare – about 1 in a million rare.

It proves that while vaccines are not 100% safe, they are very safe.

Certainly safer than the complications of a vaccine-preventable disease.

And it proves that anti-vaccine arguments are very easy to refute

More on the NVICP and Vaccine Safety

Do Vaccines Cause Tics or Tourette Syndrome?

One thing to understand when talking about tics and Tourette Syndrome is that tics are not Tourette Syndrome.

Instead, Tourette Syndrome is a type of tic disorder.

What Causes Tics and Tourette Syndrome?

You should also understand that tics are common.

In fact, about 20% of school age kids get tics, although few have them for more than a year. These motor or vocal tics (involuntary eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, humming, sniffing, grunting, throat clearing, or yelling out a word or phrase) are most common when kids are between the ages of 10 to 12 years old, but may start as early as age 6 to 7 years.

Not only are these tics common, but they are thought to be normal and very often go away without treatment. About 97% of kids have complete resolution of their tics within a year or so.

The rest might go on to have a persistent motor or vocal tic disorder though.

And some kids with persistent motor and vocal tics might have Tourette Syndrome.

Why?

“While environmental factors and illness may influence ticcing, the weight of evidence argues that tic disorders and their comorbidities are inherited/genetic. The inheritance pattern can be subtle and unexpected. In clinic, we often see a parent, while either indicating that they experienced childhood tics that remitted or that no one in the immediate family ever had tics, demonstrating frequent subtle tics.”

Kids and Tics: What’s “Normal” and When to see a Specialist

That’s right. Genetics.

Tics and Tourette Syndrome often run in families.

Do Vaccines Cause Tics or Tourette Syndrome?

As you might suspect, vaccines do not cause tics or Tourette Syndrome.

Neither does thimerosal, which used to be a common preservative in vaccines.

That’s not surprising, as neither tics nor Tourette Syndrome are new conditions.

Why can you find studies that try to link thimerosal and vaccines to tics and Tourette Syndrome? Because they are poorly done studies by folks who routinely do studies that try to make it look like vaccines cause everything from autism and tics to ADHD.

Other studies have found no link between thimerosal and tics, including the study Neuropsychological Performance 10 Years After Immunization in Infancy With Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines.

Even the studies that found some association weren’t very convincing.

“With the possible exception of tics, there was no evidence that thimerosal exposure via DTP/DT vaccines causes neurodevelopmental disorders.”

Andrews et al on Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United kingdom does not support a causal association.

One study, for example, did actually find some association between thimerosal and tics.

Maybe.

Infants who received one dose of DTP with thimerosal had a higher rate of tics than infants who didn’t. The strange thing about the study though is that infants who had two or three doses also had a higher rate than getting just one dose and a similar rate as kids who didn’t get any vaccines with thimerosal.

“We did find one statistically significant association between exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines and the presence of tics among boys, however, this association was not replicated in girls. Previous associations between thimerosal containing vaccines and tics were found by Verstraeten et al. (2003) and Andrews et al. (2004) but the findings were not sex specific. Our tic finding was also consistent with the tic finding reported in the original study (Thompson et al., 2007).”

John Barile et al on Thimerosal Exposure in Early Life and Neuropsychological Outcomes 7–10 Years Later

None of this sounds like evidence that vaccines cause tics, does it?

No.

None of these studies found clinically significant evidence that vaccines cause tics or Tourette Syndrome.

What about other thimerosal-free vaccines? There have been no reports of increased rates of tics or Tourette Syndrome with any thimerosal-free vaccines either.

“There were 17 reports of Tourette’s disorder. Two patients developed movement disorders following 4vHPV with symptoms similar to Tourette’s, but did not have a definitive clinical diagnosis of Tourette’s disorder from a specialist (i.e., a neurologist or psychiatrist). In three additional reports, patients had a Tourette’s diagnosis or displayed symptoms of Tourette’s prior to vaccination. The remaining 12 reports were submitted by one physician who read on internet websites about possible Tourette disorder occurring after vaccines, but he had no firsthand information on any patient. None of these 12 reports could be verified.”

Arana et al on Post-licensure safety monitoring of quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), 2009-2015.

There is no evidence that vaccines cause tics or Tourette Syndrome.

In fact, at the December 2017 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines, there was a petition to add tics as a vaccine table injury. After reviewing all available evidence, including the work of William Thompson, the so-called CDC Whistleblower, the committee voted 5-1 for the option to not add tics as an injury to the Table. They also didn’t add asthma or PANDAS to the vaccine injury table, despite some folks petitioning them to do so.

Tics have not been added as a table injury.
Tics have not been added as a table injury.

That’s likely not a surprise to folks who know that vaccines are safe.

What to Know About Tics and Tourette Syndrome

Anti-Vaxxers Should Be Able to Answer These Questions Correctly

There is a new meme going around suggesting that folks have no business telling anyone to vaccinate and protect their kids unless they can answer a series of questions.

I bet answers from anti-vaccine folks aren't the same as the answers from the rest of us...
I bet answers from anti-vaccine folks aren’t the same as the answers from the rest of us…

While it is certainly good to be educated about vaccines, their questions seem rather loaded.

Anti-Vaxxers Should Be Able to Answer These Questions Correctly

Since it is immoral and dangerous to push misinformation that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, it would be nice if anti-vaccine folks would answer these questions before they tried to persuade anyone to not get vaccinated:

  1. Name 5 vaccine ingredients that you think are toxic and how exactly they can be toxic at the amounts present in vaccines.
  2. Name 5 possible complications of a vaccine-preventable disease.
  3. Are doctors and alternative health care providers who push non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules able to be held liable if their intentionally unvaccinated child suffers a vaccine-preventable disease or starts an outbreak, infecting other people?
  4. How many children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in the early 1980s, before the vaccine schedule grew to include the new vaccines we give today?
  5. Is it true that no one can force you to get vaccinated?
  6. What percentage of reports to VAERS are actually caused by vaccine reactions?
  7. How many doses of vaccines have been given since the Vaccine Court began paying for vaccine injury cases?
  8. Which vaccines must be avoided because of shedding or other concerns if you have a child with an immunodeficiency in your home?
  9. Why do some folks think that many vaccines still contain thimerosal?
  10. If today’s vaccines already contain far fewer antigens than they did in the old days, what would be the extra benefit of splitting them up even further into separate shots for each vaccine-preventable disease?
  11. Have you read all of studies on the safety and effectiveness of combination vaccines, including those that are double-blinded and placebo controlled, and the current vaccine schedule?
  12. Can you give me one other interesting fact about vaccines or vaccine-preventable diseases that was not already asked or discussed?

What’s my interesting fact?

Many on-the-fence and vaccine hesitant parents do change their mind about vaccines and decide to make the right choice and get their kids vaccinated and protected.

More Things Anti-Vaxxers Should Know

Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

Most parents vaccinate their kids.

For them, it is an easy choice. They know that vaccines work, that vaccines are safe, and that vaccines are necessary.

Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

Some folks aren’t so sure though. They may either be against vaccines or might still be on the fence, not knowing for sure what to do.

“When my third child was born, I had more questions than answers and a huge reluctance to choose immunizations without certainty that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

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

Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo when he took his daughter to their pediatrician for vaccines.
Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo when he took his daughter to their pediatrician for her vaccines.

Parents can be confident that all of the evidence points to the facts that:

  1. Vaccines are effective at preventing disease. Vaccines work.
  2. Our kids do not get too many vaccines and do not get them at too early an age. The current immunization schedule helps protect young children from life-threatening diseases. Vaccines are necessary.
  3. Vaccines are safe and are extensively tested before they are approved.
  4. After they are approved, there are ongoing clinical trials and safety systems in place to rule out the possibility that vaccines could cause diseases later in life.
  5. Claims of adverse reactions are well investigated and easily disproved. Vaccines are not associated with SIDS, ADHD, eczema, autism, peanut allergies, or any other so-called vaccine induced diseases.
  6. There are plenty of places to go to get truthful, clear answers to questions about vaccines.
  7. Everything you hear that scares you about vaccines is likely not true, especially things about toxins, shedding, herd immunity, and package inserts, etc.

With all of the anti-vaccine information that is regularly posted on Facebook and anti-vaccine books listed on Amazon, it is no surprise that some parents would be scared though.

“I have discovered along the way that it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”

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

Make the effort to be well informed about vaccines.

More on Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

VigiAccess Numbers in Context

Most people are familiar with VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

They sometimes forget that it is only the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System for the United States.

Other countries have their own vaccine safety systems.

VigiAccess Numbers in Context

One of the biggest is VigiBase, the World Health Organization’s  global database for suspected adverse drug reactions, maintained by the Uppsala Monitoring Centre in Sweden.

“Information on suspected ADR should not be interpreted as meaning that the medicinal product in question, or the active substance(s), generally causes the observed effect or is unsafe to use.”

Not surprisingly, folks misuse VigiBase numbers, just like they misuse VAERS reports.

JB Handley needs help understanding VigiAccess reports.
JB Handley needs help understanding VigiAccess reports.

To look at the VigiBase reports, you can use VigiAccess.

“VigiAccess has a search interface that allows visitors to retrieve summary statistics on suspected adverse reactions to medicines and vaccines.”

Uppsala Monitoring Centre

While VigiBase “is at the heart of UMC’s signal detection and scientific research,” you aren’t going to learn much from VigiAccess.

“Geographically, only continent-level statistics are shown, due to issues relating to patient confidentiality and data protection in individual countries.”

Uppsala Monitoring Centre

The biggest problem?

You don’t know how many vaccines were given to all of those people.

For example, while it might sound like there have been a lot of adverse drug reaction reports for the DTaP vaccine, with 179,447 reports in VigiAccess, since those are worldwide reports since 1968, it is likely among many billions of doses of vaccines being given.

Most importantly though, as with VAERS, “The reports in VigiBase result from suspicions of a relationship between a drug and a reaction. No causal relation has been confirmed.”

So how do you put the numbers from VigiBase and VigiAccess in context?

If you consider that reports and safety signals from VigiBase, VigiMatch, VigiRank, and other tools used by the Uppsala Monitoring Centre continue to find that vaccines are safe, then to put the DTaP numbers in context, they help us know that vaccines are being well monitored for safety.

And since we know that these diseases haven’t disappeared, any further context, if you need it, would be that since vaccines are safe and necessary, then you should get yourself and your family vaccinated and protected.

More on VigiBase and VigiAccess

 

Did the US Government Lose a Landmark Vaccine Lawsuit?

Have you heard the big news in the anti-vaccine world?

The anti-vaccine world thinks that they won some landmark lawsuit.

Reagan didn’t do much for vaccines, but it isn’t fair to pin this one on him.

It seems that some folks think that the Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t been complying with federal vaccine safety mandates for 30 years.

The 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act includes a mandate for safer vaccines.
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 includes a mandate for safer vaccines.

Really?

Which ones?

Did the US Government Lose a Landmark Vaccine Lawsuit?

While anti-vaccine folks are pushing this lawsuit victory (?) to make folks think that HHS has done absolutely nothing to promote vaccine safety in the last 30 years, that is obviously nonsense.

The lawsuit was actually just about the reporting requirements of paragraph (c) of section 2127 of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

It should be clear that the HHS has done plenty to promote vaccine safety though.

HHS Secretary Donna Shalala reported to the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions in 1998.
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala actually reported to the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions in 1998.

Even if no formal reports were filed, the HHS secretary did report to and appear before Congress. Come to think of it, they even sent some reports to Congress.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has commissioned almost a dozen reports about vaccine safety over the years.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has commissioned almost a dozen reports about vaccine safety over the years.

And the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) division (previously known as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published a number of vaccine safety reviews and reports under commission of HRSA, an agency of HHS.

Where do folks think that all of those IOM vaccine safety reports and reviews come from? Were they sent to Congress?

The Assistant Secretary for Health leads development of HHS-wide public health policy recommendations, oversees 11 core public health offices — including the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which has approximately 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve in nearly 600 locations around the world to promote, protect and advance the health and safety of our nation and our world. He also oversees three Presidential and 11 Secretarial advisory committees.
The Assistant Secretary for Health leads development of HHS-wide public health policy recommendations, oversees 11 core public health offices and three Presidential and 11 Secretarial advisory committees. We have had a National Vaccine Plan since 1994.

And also consider that:

Most importantly, new vaccines have been approved that protect our kids against many more now vaccine-preventable diseases.

HHS Settles Lawsuit Over Vaccine Safety Reporting

But wait, did the HHS even lose the lawsuit?

Not saying I'm surprised, but even Dr. Bob has bought into the idea that this lawsuit against HHS means something big.
Not saying I’m surprised, but even Dr. Bob has bought into the idea that this lawsuit against HHS means something big.

They actually didn’t.

They did settle a lawsuit though, a lawsuit which was then dismissed.

So like the CDC whistleblower movie that didn’t include a whistleblower, anti-vaccine folks think that they have a smoking gun about vaccine safety reports, except that it is very obvious that all kinds of reports about vaccine safety have been done over the years.

Vaccines are still safe. And they are still necessary.

What to Know About the HHS Vaccine Lawsuit

Although it does seem like HHS didn’t file the required formal reports and keep to the strict letter of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, there is abundant evidence that they have actually done all of the work required to make sure that our vaccines are safe.

More on the HHS Vaccine Lawsuit

Do You Know What Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Look Like?

Odds are that you have never seen anyone with smallpox, but what about measles or mumps?

No?

Have you ever even seen someone with chicken pox?

Photos of Vaccine-Preventable Disease

Maybe if more folks knew what typical vaccine-preventable diseases looked like, then they wouldn’t be so quick to think about skipping or delaying their kids vaccines.

And they certainly wouldn’t think that these are mild diseases that they wanted their kids to get, thinking natural immunity would be better than the immunity that they could more easily and safely get from a vaccine.

Severe dehydration in a child with a rotavirus infection.
Severe dehydration in a child with a rotavirus infection.

Kids with diphtheria develop a bull neck and a thick pseudomembrane that covers their throat.
Kids with diphtheria develop a bull neck and a thick pseudomembrane that covers their throat. Photo by the Japanese Society of Tropical Medicine

Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury?
Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury? Photo by Petrus Rudolf de Jong (CC BY 3.0)

Newborns and infants have the highest rates of death from pertussis.
Newborns and infants have the highest rates of death from pertussis or whooping cough.

An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines.
An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines. Photo by Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

Mumps causes kids to have fever, puffy cheeks, and a painful, swollen jaw.
Mumps causes kids to have fever, puffy cheeks, and a painful, swollen jaw.

A baby with a congenital cataract and blueberry muffin rash - classic signs of congenital rubella syndrome.
A baby with a congenital cataract and blueberry muffin rash – classic signs of congenital rubella syndrome. (CC BY-NC-SA)

In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy.
In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

This 2016 hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries led to 143 cases and 56 hospitalizations.
This 2016 hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries led to 143 cases and 56 hospitalizations.

Chronic hepatitis B is a silent killer.
Chronic hepatitis B is a silent killer.

A papilloma caused by HPV on the vocal cords of a child with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
A papilloma caused by HPV on the vocal cords of a child with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. (CC BY 4.0)

Even if they survive, kids can lose fingers, toes, or even arms and legs to meningococcemia.
Even if they survive, kids can lose fingers, toes, or even arms and legs to meningococcal disease.

In addition to pneumonia and meningitis, the Hib bacteria can cause epiglottitis, making it very difficult to breath.
In addition to pneumonia and meningitis, the Hib bacteria can cause epiglottitis, making it very difficult to breath. Seen here are the ‘thumb sign’ on X-ray and the cherry red epiglottis.

Before wide use of the Hib and Prevnar vaccines, infants with fever would routinely get spinal taps and you would hope for clear fluid (cloudy fluid could be a sign of a bacterial infection).
Before wide use of the pneumococcal vaccines, infants with fever would routinely a get spinal tap to make sure that they didn’t have bacterial meningitis.

If a mother get chicken pox late in her pregnancy, her baby will be exposed before he is born and will develop chicken pox, often severe, in his first week of life.
If a mother get chicken pox late in her pregnancy, then her baby will be exposed before he is born and will develop chicken pox, often severe, in his first week of life. (CC by 3.0)

Although rare, even infants can develop shingles, most commonly if their mothers had a chicken pox infection while pregnant.
Although rare, even infants can develop shingles, most commonly if their mothers had a chicken pox infection while pregnant. (CC by 3.0)

Never touch a bat that you find on the ground during the day, as it might have rabies.
Animals acting strangely may have rabies. Photo by Radu Privantu (CC BY 2.0)

As in most years, flu deaths in children mostly occurred in kids who weren't vaccinated.
As in most years, flu deaths in children mostly occurred in kids who weren’t vaccinated.

Two kids with smallpox - one vaccinated and one unvaccinated. Can you guess which is which?
Two kids with smallpox – one vaccinated and one unvaccinated. Can you guess which is which?

Surprisingly, treatments haven't changed much since this photo was taken of a patient with yellow fever in 1898.
Surprisingly, treatments haven’t changed much since this photo was taken of a patient with yellow fever in 1898.

Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was quarantined because she continued to work as a cook, spreading Salmonella typhi bacteria to other people.
Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was quarantined because she continued to work as a cook, spreading Salmonella Typhi bacteria to other people.

Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquito bites.
Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquito bites.

I know what some of you are thinking. And no, just because these vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t as common as they used to be doesn’t mean that any of these vaccines aren’t necessary.

Why not?

We don’t see them as much as we did in the pre-vaccine era simply because these vaccines work!

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

We all know what happens if we stop vaccinating.

And it is not just that we get a few updated photos of kids with measles, mumps, diphtheria, and other vaccine-preventable diseases…

More on Photos of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases