Tag: safety

50 Ways to Get Educated About Vaccines

A Board of Health quarantine poster warning that the premises are contaminated by smallpox.
Have you ever seen a quarantine sign for smallpox on someone’s home? That’s because Vaccines Work!

Have questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases?

Think you have done enough research already?

If that research has you asking for package inserts and requesting low aluminum vaccines, then you might need to rethink how you have been doing your research.

Get Educated About Vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

They aren’t full of toxins.

They have been tested together.

Pediatricians do know a lot about vaccines. What they may not know is how to counter every anti-vaccine argument that you might have heard of, read about, or with which one of your family members is scaring you.

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

American Academy of Pediatrics

You can rest assured that these arguments have all been debunked, often many years ago, but they keep coming up, over and over again. In fact, today’s anti-vaccine movement uses many of the same themes as folks used when the first vaccines were introduced over one hundred years ago.

50 Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

So before deciding to skip or delay any of your child’s vaccines, do some real research about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases and:

  1. Understand the Pseudoscience Behind the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  2. Review the contraindications to vaccines and even more common, the things commonly misperceived as contraindications
  3. Examine the evidence for the safety of vaccines
  4. Get answers to the 9 Questions For The Pro-Vaxers
  5. Know that Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
  6. Read about these Five Things I’ve Learned About Vaccines Through 21 Years of Parenting
  7. Learn the Tactics and Tropes of the Anti-vaccine Movement
  8. Know that kids do not get too many vaccines too soon and that vaccines don’t overwhelm your child’s immune system
  9. Understand these Vaccine Safety Basics
  10. Don’t listen to these anti-vaccine celebrities
  11. Get the details of Andrew Wakefield’s fraud
  12. Study why those Graphs That Show Vaccines Don’t Work are just propaganda
  13. Know that you can’t hide your kids in the herd to avoid disease
  14. Read why “Spacing Out” Vaccines Doesn’t Make Them Safer
  15. Wonder why parents misuse religious exemptions to excuse kids from vaccines
  16. See the evidence that Flu Shots Work for Kids Under Two
  17. Review these questions and answers on immunization and vaccine safety
  18. Learn Why My Child With Autism Is Fully Vaccinated
  19. Know that You Can Be the Pro-Life Parent of a Fully Vaccinated Child
  20. See how Having a baby doesn’t change the facts on vaccines
  21. Question Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet
  22. Read An Open Letter to Expecting Parents and Parents Yet-To-Be about Vaccinating
  23. Know that there is No Clear Evidence that Vaccines Cause Autism
  24. Learn from those who have Left the Anti-Vaccine Movement
  25. Understand why you’re wrong if you think the flu vax gives you the flu
  26. Avoid Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears
  27. Realize that Almost All Religions Support Immunizations
  28. Learn which vaccines are the most important to get
  29. See that Unvaccinated Children Can Have Autism Too
  30. View Personal Stories of Families Affected by Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  31. Know who is at risk if you don’t vaccinate your kids
  32. Read about the most common Misconceptions about Vaccines
  33. Review the Benefits vs. Risks of getting vaccinated
  34. Learn about the Ingredients in Vaccines
  35. Realize that vaccines are carefully monitored for safety, even after they have been approved, and it isn’t just by folks reporting side effects to VAERS
  36. Know that those 124 Research Papers Supporting the Vaccine/Autism Link Really Don’t
  37. Understand what Vaccine Package Inserts really do and don’t tell you
  38. See why the CDC Whistleblower really has no whistle to blow
  39. Know that the Vaccine Court did not say that vaccines cause autism
  40. What to consider if Deciding whether to alter the immunization schedule
  41. Learn why Shedding from Vaccines isn’t a danger to your kids
  42. Review even more Misconceptions about Immunizations
  43. Understand The Science Behind Vaccine Research and Testing
  44. Know that your Unvaccinated Child isn’t going to be Healthier than Vaccinated Kids
  45. Realize just how important the HPV vaccine really is
  46. Learn How to Respond to Inaccurate Posts about Vaccines on Social Media
  47. Know that vaccines are studied in pregnant women
  48. See the real dangers in following Jenny McCarthy’s advice
  49. Know that VAERS reports are often misused and understand that parents can report suspected adverse events to VAERS themselves
  50. Fill out a screening questionnaire for contraindications to vaccines

Still have questions? Read one or more of these Vaccine Books

And talk to your doctor about your concerns about vaccines.

Get Educated. Get Vaccinated.

More Ways To Get Educated About Vaccines

These websites and blogs will also help you get educated about vaccines and research any addition questions you might have:

Vaccines and Seizures

A newborn baby getting an EEG.
A newborn baby getting an EEG.

Can vaccines cause seizures?

Unfortunately, they sometimes can.

Vaccines and Febrile Seizures

The CDC reports that “There is a small increased risk for febrile seizures after MMR and MMRV vaccines.”

We also know that:

  • there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures when the influenza vaccine is given at the same time as either the Prevnar13 vaccine or the DTaP vaccine, although “the risk of febrile seizure with any combination of these vaccines is small and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) does not recommend getting any of these vaccines on separate days.”
  • there is a small increased risk for febrile seizures if the combined MMR and chicken pox vaccine (ProQuad) is given to infants between the ages of 12 to 23 months vs their getting the shots separately.

But remember that febrile seizures, while scary for parents and other caregivers, are rarely dangerous.

It is also important to note that while febrile seizures are common, they are not commonly triggered by vaccines. A 2016 report in Pediatrics, “Vaccines and Febrile Seizures: Quantifying the Risk,” states that “The risk is 1 febrile seizure per pediatric practice every 5 to 10 years.”

Not surprisingly though, vaccines can likely prevent many febrile seizures, as chicken pox, flu, Hib, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal infections and other vaccine-preventable diseases often cause fever and can trigger febrile seizures themselves.

Also, a study recently found that children who got sick with pertussis could be at increased risk for developing epilepsy, or recurrent seizures. That’s just another good reason to get vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines and Other Types of Seizures

While vaccines can sometimes trigger febrile seizures, they do not typically cause other types of seizures.

It was once thought that seizures were a common side effect of the DPT vaccine, but many studies have found that to not be true and seizures following DPT was even removed as a table injury from the NVICP. In fact, many of these children were instead found to have Dravet syndrome, which put them at increased risk for febrile seizures.

Long-term non-febrile seizures are still listed as side effects for the DTaP and MMR vaccine, but they “are so rare it is hard to tell if they are caused by the vaccine.”

A 2010 study in Pediatrics, “Lack of Association Between Acellular Pertussis Vaccine and Seizures in Early Childhood,” did not find any “increased risk for seizures after
DTaP vaccination among children who were aged 6 weeks to 23 months.”

Do report any reaction to VAERS if you think it was caused by a vaccine though.

Seizures After Getting Vaccines

If vaccines don’t usually cause seizures, then how do you explain a healthy infant developing seizures a few days, weeks, or months after getting his vaccines?

We’re always looking for reasons why something happened. The example I use is from my wife, who is a pediatrician. She was about to vaccinate a four-month-old baby, and while she was drawing the vaccine from the syringe, the baby had a seizure — and went onto have a permanent seizure disorder. Now, my wife hadn’t given the vaccine yet. But if she had given that vaccine five minutes earlier, there would have been no amount of statistical data in the world that would have convinced that mother that the vaccine hadn’t caused the baby’s seizure. You can do studies that show no increased risk with vaccines and seizure disorders, but that mother might still say “well, that’s true for the population but it’s not true for my child.”

Temporal associations are powerful, and they’re hard to defeat with statistics or studies.

Paul Offit, MD interview for The Thinking Persons Guide to Autism

There are many seizure disorders that begin in infancy.

Some even start in the newborn period, before a baby is a month old.

They are not triggered by vaccines though.

They include:

  • Infantile Spasms (first described in 1841) – typically begin when infants are about 4 months old, just when they get their second set of vaccines, which weren’t available when Dr. West described his own son’s repeated spasms
  • Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures – often genetic, seizures may begin on a baby’s third day of life
  • Benign Neonatal Convulsions – begin on the fifth day of life – the “fifth day fits,” and the seizures stop in about a month

If your child got her first hepatitis B vaccine when she was five days old and began having seizures, would you accept a diagnosis of Benign Neonatal Convulsions or would you blame the shot?

Would you remember the saying about correlation and causation?

For More Information on Vaccines and Seizures:

Contaminated Vaccines

comvax
Hib and Comvax vaccines were recalled in 2007 over concerns about bacterial contamination.

Tragically, vaccines can sometimes become contaminated with substances that can get kids sick.

In addition to the Cutter Incident, in which live polio virus contaminated the inactivated polio vaccines, problems with contaminated vaccines include:

  • two children in Chiapas, Mexico who died after getting vaccines that were contaminated with bacteria
  • hepatitis-contaminated yellow fever vaccines during WWII
  • tetanus contaminated smallpox vaccine in the 1890s and early 20th century

Other findings of contamination have not led to any problems, such as:

Still, that has not stopped some from scaring many people about the idea of contaminated vaccines – from misinformation about glyphospate in vaccines to conspiracy theories of a polio vaccine cancer cover up and hidden ingredients that contaminate vaccines.

Worries about contamination should certainly not keep you from vaccinating your kids though.

The most recent episode, in Chiapas,  was because of local conditions in a remote village in Mexico. It had nothing to do with how the vaccine was produced.

In 2007, it is reported that “routine testing identified B. cereus in the vaccine manufacturing process equipment, but not in individual vaccine lots.” Although the vaccines were quickly recalled, no one got sick.

Other cases, like when tetanus or hepatitis contaminated some vaccines, while tragic, was long before the latest safeguard from the FDA were put in place.

Vaccines are very safe from contamination.

For More Information on Contaminated Vaccines:

Vaccine Recalls

comvax
Two lots of Comvax were recalled in 2007 because of contamination concerns.

Vaccines aren’t often recalled. There have been about 18 recalls of vaccines since 2006.

While that might seem like a lot, remember that at least 2.5 billion doses of vaccines have been given in that time .

When vaccines are recalled, it is typically because:

  • there is a loss of potency over time (typically flu vaccines near the middle or end of flu season)
  • there are minor production or manufacturing issues

Fortunately, these recalls don’t usually seem to involve major problems.

They are also a testament to just how closely vaccines are inspected after they are manufactured.

Vaccine Recalls

Recent vaccine recalls include:

  • Fluzone Quadrivalent – 3 lots had declined below the stability specification limit for 2 strains (2015)
  • Flulaval Quadrivalent – 13 lots of thimerosal-free pre-filled syringes were recalled because of loss of potency (2015)
  • Gardasil – one lot was recalled “due to the potential for a limited number of vials to contain glass particles” (2013)
  • Menveo – two lots were recalled “following observation of higher-than-specified levels of residual moisture within the lyophilized MenA component vial” (2013)
  • Recombivax HB – one lot was recalled “due to the potential for a limited number of cracked vials to be present in the lot.” (2013)
  • Typhim Vi – two lots of prefilled syringes and 20-dose vials because the “lots are at risk for lower antigen content” (2012)
  • MMR-II – one lot was recalled because it had not been shipped before being released. (2012)
  • Prevnar 13 – one lot was recalled because “the lot was formulated and filled with expired serotype 3 conjugate material.” (2012)
  • Fluvirin – one lot was recalled because “for a small number of vials, cracked vial necks leading to broken vials have been detected” (2010)
  • RabAvert Rabies Vaccine Kits – one lot was recalled because “as the stopper and the metal crimp dislodge from the vial completely when removing the protective cap.” (2010)
  • Prevnar 7 – 4 lots were recalled because “a potential exists for syringes to have been distributed with a rubber formulation in the syringe tip caps that was not approved for use with Prevnar.” (2010)
  • 2009 H1N1 intranasal vaccine – 13 lots were recalled because of a “slight decrease in the potency of the H1N1 component of the vaccine” (2009)
  • 2009 H1N1 vaccine – 4 lots were recalled because they were “intended for children 6 through 35 months of age” (2009)
  • Prevnar 7 – 1 lot was recalled because some of pre-filled syringes were “not intended for commercial use” (2009)
  • Fluvirin – 5 lots was recalled because of “a minor deviation in the potency of the A/Brisbane (H1N1) component of the vaccine” (2009)
  • PedvaxHib and Comvax – 13 lots were recalled because of a “lack of assurance of product sterility” (2007)
  • Fluvirin – 2 lots were recalled because they were shipped “in either a frozen state and/or below the required storage temperature” (2006)
  • Decavac – one carton (about 3000 Td shots) was recalled because it ” exceeded labeled temperature requirements during shipment” (2006)

These vaccine recalls shouldn’t scare you away from getting your kids vaccinated.

None led to “serious adverse events,” as some folks try to scare parents.

If anything, they should reassure you just how safe vaccines are. After all, from these vaccine recalls, you now know that ‘they’ are:

  • monitoring the potency of vaccines after they are manufactured
  • monitoring the temperatures of the vaccines while they are being shipped and stored
  • continuing to do quality testing, even after the vaccine is released

Remember, according to the CDC:

There have been only a few vaccine recalls or withdrawals due to concerns about either how well the vaccine was working or about its safety.  Several vaccine lots have been recalled in recent years because of a possible safety concern before anyone reported any injury.  Rather, the manufacturer’s quality testing noticed some irregularity in some vaccine vials.  In these cases, the safety of these vaccines was monitored continuously before and after they were in use.

Of these recalls, one of the largest was the 2007 recall of PedvaxHib and Comvax by Merck over concerns “about potential contamination with bacteria called B. cereus.” Fortunately, “no evidence of B. cereus infection was found in recipients of recalled Hib vaccines.”

If one of your child’s vaccines have been recalled, you will likely be notified by your pediatrician, who would have been notified by the manufacturer of the vaccine.

For More Information on Vaccine Recalls:

Those Times Other Countries Impulsively Banned Vaccines

Many people know that other countries have different immunization requirements and recommendations than the United States.

In fact, it is even a popular anti-vaccine myth that we give many more vaccines than most other countries. There actually isn’t all that many differences.

What is very different is how quickly most other countries are to pull vaccines at the first sign of an issue, even when it is isn’t likely to be caused by the vaccine and when the consequences are that people are going to be put at risk of life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases.

We saw this when:

  • France suspended the routine vaccination of teens against hepatitis B because of the possible association of the vaccine with multiple sclerosis in 1998 amid “pressure from anti-vaccine groups and reports in the French media have raised concerns about a link between HBV immunisation and new cases or relapses of MS and other demyelinating diseases,” even though “scientific data available do not support a causal association between HBV immunisation and central nervous system diseases, including MS.”
  • DTP vaccination was interrupted in Sweden, Japan, UK, The Russian Federation, Ireland, Italy, the former West Germany, and Australia leading to a pertussis incidence that “was 10 to 100 times lower in countries where high vaccine coverage was maintained than in countries where immunisation programs were compromised by anti-vaccine movements.” The United States was one of the countries that did not stop using DTP at the time, at least not until we had the newer, DTaP vaccine. In Japan, where they switched from DTP to DT in 1974 and raised the ages that children be vaccinated, only 10% had been been vaccinated against pertussis by 1976. In 1979, there was a large pertussis outbreak with 41 deaths.
  • Japan switched from the combination MMR to single vaccines in 1993 because their MMR vaccine had been linked to aseptic meningitis.
  • Some reports say that Sweden and Finland suspended the use of the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine because of its association with narcolepsy, but since the vaccine was for the 2009-10 swine flu pandemic, that seems academic.
  • Japan suspended both Hib and Prevnar for a month in 2011 “because of seven deaths of children that were ultimately found to be unrelated to the vaccines.”
  • Japan also quickly began investigating the HPV vaccines shortly after they became available in Japan “because of fears of complex regional pain syndrome.”
  • Italy temporarily suspended the Fluad flu vaccine after 19 deaths in 2014, but quickly reinstated it after the vaccine was found to be safe.
  • Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia temporarily suspended the Agrippal and Fluad flu vaccines in 2012 because “white particles were seen in syringes carrying the vaccines,” even though they were said to be a normal part of the manufacturing process.

What are the consequences of frequently suspending and banning vaccines? It certainly doesn’t improve people’s confidence in vaccines or help keep immunization rates up. And we know what it does to disease rates.

Of course, that is not to say that the United States will never stop or suspend the use of a vaccine. The RotaShield rotavirus vaccine is a good example. It was taken off the market just nine months after being approved because it was associated with intussusception.

And we aren’t using FluMist this flu season.

But in most other situations, vaccines were investigated and found to be safe, all without having to be suspended, leaving kids unprotected and at risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease.

Other countries have sometimes found issues with their vaccines too. Western Australia temporarily suspended FluVax flu shots for children under age 5 years because of an increased rate of fever and febrile seizures in 2010.

Mexico suspended vaccinations after at least two kids died and 29 got sick in Chiapas in 2015 (bacterial contamination of vaccine vials). But it wasn’t all vaccines in the whole country as many reported. It was only a few lots in that part of the country, and vaccines were quickly restarted once they were found to be safe.

It should also be noted that many of these vaccines were never used in the United States, including the brand of MMR that was used in Japan and the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine.

Even FluVax was not used in the United States for young children. In 2010, Afluria, which is essentially the same vaccine, was only recommended for children who were at least 9-years-old.

For More Information:

 

References:
Akehurst C. France suspends hepatitis B immunisation for adolescents in schools. Euro Surveill. 1998;2(41):pii=1143
Gangarosa EJ. Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story. Lancet. 1998 Jan 31;351(9099):356-61.

Flu Vaccine Recommendations

While you likely get your kids a flu vaccine, it is just as likely that you didn’t get a flu vaccine as a child.

It’s not that flu vaccines are new, it’s just that the recommendations to vaccinate all or most people is relatively new. In the ‘old days,’ flu shots were mainly given to “groups who are at increased risk for influenza-related complications.” Of course, this included many children, such as:

  • children who have chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including asthma
  • children who have required regular medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus)

That changed in 2001, when a new recommendation was made for the 2002-03 flu season (also when some thimerosal free flu vaccine became available):

Because young, otherwise healthy children are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalization, influenza vaccination of healthy children aged 6-23 months is encouraged when feasible.

A few years later, vaccinating all healthy children aged 6-23 months became a formal recommendation – for the 2004-05 flu season.

It was expanded to include healthy children between 24 and 59 months before the 2006-07 flu season and again to include healthy children between 5 and 18 years before the 2008-09 flu season.

We got the current universal flu vaccine recommendation, all people who are at least 6 months old who don’t have any contraindications, before the 2010-11 flu season.

Flu Shot Recommendations in Pregnancy

Flu vaccine recommendations during pregnancy have changed over time too.

Since the 2004 flu season, it has been recommended that “women who will be pregnant during the influenza season” get vaccinated, “in any trimester.”

Before that, the recommendation for pregnant women was that:

  • 1983-84 flu season – Physicians should evaluate a pregnant woman’s need for influenza vaccination on the same basis used for other persons; i.e., vaccination should be advised for a pregnant woman who has any underlying high-risk condition.
  • 1990-91 flu season – …pregnant women who have other medical conditions that increase their risks for complications from influenza should be vaccinated, as the vaccine is considered safe for pregnant women. Administering the vaccine after the first trimester is a reasonable precaution to minimize any concern over the theoretical risk of teratogenicity. However, it is undesirable to delay vaccination of pregnant women who have high-risk conditions and who will still be in the first trimester of pregnancy when the influenza season begins.
  • 1994-95 flu season – …pregnant women who have other medical conditions that increase their risks for complications from influenza should be vaccinated because the vaccine is considered safe for pregnant women — regardless of the stage of pregnancy. Thus, it is undesirable to delay vaccination of pregnant women who have high-risk conditions and who will still be in the first trimester of pregnancy when the influenza season begins.
  • 1995-96 flu season – …additional case reports and limited studies suggest that women in the third trimester of pregnancy and early puerperium, including those women without underlying risk factors, might be at increased risk for serious complications from influenza. Health-care workers who provide care for pregnant women should consider administering influenza vaccine to all women who would be in the third trimester of pregnancy or early puerperium during the influenza season. Pregnant women who have medical conditions that increase their risk for complications from influenza should be vaccinated before the influenza season, regardless of the stage of pregnancy. Administration of influenza vaccine is considered safe at any stage of pregnancy.

And finally, for the 1997-98 flu season, the flu vaccine recommendation was updated to “Women who will be in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season.”

For More Information on Flu Vaccine Recommendations:

 

Flu Vaccine Recommendation References:
MMWR. Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Pregnant Women — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season. September 18, 2015 / 64(36);1000-1005.
MMWR. Prevention and Control of Influenza: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) April 25, 1997 / 46(RR-9);1-25.
MMWR. Recommendation of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) Influenza Vaccines, 1983-1984. July 08, 1983 / 32(26);333-7.

 

IOM Vaccine Reports

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public.

“With the start of the new school year, it’s time to ensure that children are up to date on their immunizations, making this report’s findings about the safety of these eight vaccines particularly timely,” said committee chair Ellen Wright Clayton, professor of pediatrics and law, and director, Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.  “The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely.  And repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines.”

They occasionally issue reports and safety reviews about vaccines:

Reading these reports will help you to understand why vaccine experts argue that vaccines do not cause autism, SIDS, or multiple sclerosis, etc.

For More Information On IOM Vaccine Reports: