Tag: safety

Who Dies with Measles?

Measles is another of those diseases that some claim used to be mild and a rite of passage for kids.

That’s why there was an episode of the Brady Bunch about it, right?

An episode in which all of the kids got sick and they had to call two pediatricians to do house calls…

Who Dies with Measles?

While measles was a rite of passage for kids, it wasn’t the kind you looked forward to, because measles is rarely mild.

“Before a vaccine became available in 1963, measles was a rite of passage among American children. A red rash would spread over their bodies. They would develop a high fever. Severe cases could cause blindness or brain damage, or even death.”

CDC says measles almost eliminated in U.S.

Instead, most people develop 10 days of measles symptoms, including a high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes, and a rash. Photophobia, irritability, sore throat, headache, and abdominal pain are other symptoms that children with measles might have.

Many require hospitalization and some die.

But isn’t it just older people or those with immune system problems that die with measles?

“From 1964 through 1971, 16.7% of the death certificates reviewed noted some underlying pathologic condition.”

Roger Barkin, MD on Measles mortality. Analysis of the primary cause of death.

Nope.

It is most often children, typically young children, without any medical problems who die.

Before the routine use of vaccines, most measles deaths were young children without any medical problems.
Before the routine use of measles vaccines, most measles deaths were young children without any previous medical problems.

In the post-vaccination era, no one would be expected to die with measles, but those with immune system problems sometimes do, as most others are vaccinated and protected. As vaccinated rates drop though, even otherwise healthy children and adults can once again die of measles.

Remember the measles outbreaks at the end of the 1980s?

“Complications were reported in 672 (9.8%) cases, including otitis media in 318 (4.6%) cases, pneumonia in 178 (2.6%), diarrhea in 171 (2.5%), and encephalitis in five (0.1%). Nine hundred thirteen patients (13.3%) were hospitalized, and 10 measles-associated fatalities were reported (case-fatality rate: 1.5 deaths per 1000 reported cases). Eight of the deaths were reported in children less than 5 years of age, all of whom were unvaccinated. None had a reported underlying illness or immunodeficiency. Most deaths have been attributed to pneumonia.”

Measles — United States, First 26 Weeks, 1989

Probably not, but from 1989 to 1991 there were at least 123 measles deaths across the United States, even after measles had been declining for years with the introduction of the measles vaccine in the 1960s. Most of the deaths were otherwise healthy, without underlying medical problems.

They were unvaccinated and unprotected.

Because we don’t typically hear any details about measles deaths, including the almost 90,000 measles deaths that continue to occur around the world each year, most people likely assume that measles only kills in third world countries, where kids are already sick or malnourished. Of course, that wouldn’t explain how over one hundred people died with measles in Europe over the past few years…

Still think that measles isn’t deadly?

Tragically, there are plenty of stories (although most are never reported in the news and we don’t hear about them) and case reports that will prove you wrong:

  • Olivia Dahl died with measles when she was 7-years-old (1962)
  • an unvaccinated 3-year-old died in Maricopa County (1970)
  • a 13-year-old girl who had previously been vaccinated with one of the first inactivated measles vaccines which were found to be ineffective and were replaced with the newer live vaccines died in Michigan (1978)
  • a 9-month-old died in Chicago (1990)
  • an unvaccinated 13-year-old died in Kansas (1990)
  • Tammy Bowman, an 11-year-old unvaccinated girl died in Michigan (1990)
  • an unvaccinated 13-year-old became the first person in the UK to die with measles in 14 years (2006)
  • a 14-year-old died of Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE), a late complication of a natural measles infection (2015)
  • an immunocompromised woman died after she was exposed in an outbreak in Clallam County, Washington (2015)
  • a 6-year-old boy with leukemia died in Italy caught measles from his intentionally unvaccinated sibling (2017)
  • an 11-month-old unvaccinated infant died in Greece (2017)
  • an intentionally unvaccinated 9-year-old girl with chromosomopathy, which is not a contraindication to getting vaccinated, died in Italy (2017)
  • a 10-month-old unvaccinated boy who likely caught measles when he had been hospitalized for an RSV infection, died in Italy (2018)
  • a 16-year-old who had received a heart transplant when she was 2-years-old died in France (2018)
  • an unvaccinated toddler in Jerusalem (2018)

Measles as a rite of passage?

“We baby boomers were apparently the last generation whose doctors, and therefore parents, accepted the measles as just one more annoying rite of passage of childhood that also happened to prime the immune system and provide lifelong immunity. Medical texts prior to the advent of the vaccine described measles as a benign, selflimiting (sic) childhood infectious disease that posed little risk to the average well-nourished child.”

Darrerl Crain, DC on The Great Measles Misunderstanding

While early pediatric textbooks did a great job describing the symptoms of measles, they also did a great job of documenting that measles was never a benign disease, something anti-vaccine folks still misunderstand because vaccines can do such a good job controlling the disease.

Even as overall mortality improved in the mid-20th Century, measles still wasn't a benign disease.
Even as overall mortality improved in the mid-20th Century, measles still wasn’t a benign disease.

Do benign, self-limiting childhood infections diseases kill hundreds of children every year?

This toddler died of measles in 1955.
This toddler died of measles in 1955.

Measles as a rite of passage is something we don’t want to have to go back to. It was a rite of passage that was endured because there was no other choice.

We have a choice now.

Don’t be misled into making the wrong one.

Don’t help anti-vaccine folks bring back measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines are safe, effective and necessary.

“Today, vaccination is a cornerstone of pediatric preventive health care and a rite of passage for nearly all of the approximately 11,000 infants born daily in the United States.”

Cohn et al on Immunizations in the United States: A Rite of Passage

Getting vaccinated and protected is a rite of passage that you can look forward to, thanks to the many benefits of vaccines, not one that you should dread or avoid.

More on Measles Deaths

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