Tag: scared

A Toddler Has Died After Being Vaccinated in Cuba

No one expects to hear stories of kids dying after being vaccinated. Fortunately, these types of tragedies are very, very rare.

Still, even one is too many when it might have been prevented. After all, that’s why we vaccinate our kids in the first place. To protect them from life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases.

A Toddler Has Died After Being Vaccinated in Cuba

The Ministry of Health in Cuba released a statement a few days after her death:

“Between October 7 and 8 of this year, three one-year-old children were diagnosed with an adverse event associated with vaccination with PRS, which protects against Mumps, Rubella and Measles, this is applied according to official scheme to children one and six years old.

All had been vaccinated on October 7 at the “Betancourt Neninger” Polyclinic in the municipality of Habana del Este, province of Havana, and immediately after symptoms appeared, they were admitted and received medical attention by professionals of high scientific level in the Pediatric Hospitals ” Borrás Marfán ”and Centro Habana.

Through the active research carried out on all children vaccinated in that Health Area, two more children were detected with symptoms, which motivated their admission.

Painfully on October 9 at night, the one-year-old girl Paloma Domínguez Caballero dies, admitted to the “Borrás Marfán” Hospital as a result of complications. The remaining four children remain admitted: one with intensive attention, which is stable and the others evolve favorably.

The system of active surveillance of the events associated with vaccination carried out in the country has not identified any other children with symptoms.

The PRS vaccine has been used for years in Cuba, imported from India, is endorsed by the World Health Organization and certified by the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices (CECMED).

A Commission of the Ministry of Public Health investigates the causes that caused this unfortunate event.”

Official Note from the Ministry of Public Health on adverse event associated with vaccination with PRS (computer translation)

So what happened?

Tragically, either because of errors or contamination, vaccines can rarely cause people to get sick, either if:

  • a reconstituted vaccine was used much after six hours – live vaccines can quickly become contaminated if they are kept and used for too long a time
  • vaccine diluents were mixed up – some vaccines need to be mixed before use and vaccination tragedies can occur when a dangerous medication is used instead of a vaccine’s standard diluent
  • vaccines were improperly handled – breaking the cold chain – or allowed to expire
  • a vaccine is given to someone with a true medical contraindication

In Samoa, the recent tragedy in which two toddlers died, we know that the vaccine diluent was mixed up with a powerful anesthetic.

It doesn’t sound like a diluent mixup happened in Cuba though.

“The mother told the news portal CiberCuba that the daughter’s arm began to swell the same day she was vaccinated. Then the vomits arrived. Less than 24 hours later I was already in intensive care, from where I did not come out alive again.”

Vacuna en mal estado suministrada en Cuba podría haber dejado 25 niños en estado de gravedad

With reports that the vaccines were possibly expired and the child getting sick later in the day, with swelling in her arm, it is more likely that there was some contamination, maybe in a vaccine vial itself.

A 10 dose vial of MMR from the Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd.
A 10 dose vial of MMR from the Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd.

Which vaccine?

The report says that it was the PRS vaccine – Parotiditis, Rubéola, and Sarampion – or MMR, which is usually available in 5 or 10 multi-dose vials when one dose vials aren’t available.

It was imported from India, which makes many of the vaccines that are used throughout the world, but any contamination likely would have occurred well after it was manufactured and shipped to Cuba.

In all of these cases, there is typically nothing inherently wrong with the vaccine itself.

“Cuba, a relatively poor and small country (population 11.2 million), has managed to bring about remarkable achievements in health in the past 30 years despite difficult fiscal restraints and limited resources.”

MacDonald et al on Infectious Disease Management: Lessons from Cuba

Interestingly, Cuba actually makes most of their other immunizations.

So why would they be using expired vaccines?

Was it a mistake?

Did someone use a leftover vial that had become contaminated with bacteria? Were the vaccines not refrigerated properly? Is it an isolated issue or part of a bigger breakdown in their healthcare system?

With four other sick kids, the use of a contaminated leftover vial that was part of an original 10 dose vial becomes one possible scenario.

We might get some answers if the vaccine vials had not been thrown away after they were used, and are still available for testing.

In Chapias, Mexico, after two infants died in 2015 after getting multiple vaccines, a vial was found to be contaminated with the Staphylococcus hominis bacteria.

A few years later, in 2017, 15 children died in South Sudan when unrefrigerated vaccine was mixed with a syringe that was reused over and over for four days and given to kids by untrained workers.

Again, these are very rare and isolated cases. Remember that billions of doses of vaccines are given each year without problems, saving millions of lives.

Hopefully we will soon learn what really happened to these children in Cuba, especially as that will hopefully help to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Most importantly, don’t let these very rare tragedies scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

“The Cuban government has confirmed that five children suffered severe reactions and one of them — a 1-year-old girl — died after receiving a vaccine. The serum came from the same company in India that produced vaccines linked to the deaths of three other children following inoculations administered in Cuba in 2002.”

Child dies in Cuba after receiving vaccine made in India. It’s not the first time

We should remember what happened following the tragedy in Samoa. All vaccinations were unnecessarily suspended in the country for a time and MMR vaccinations were suspended for nine months!

What came next?

A measles epidemic that has already seen the death of one toddler!

The death of the girl in Cuba is a terrible tragedy, but folks shouldn’t make it any worse. There is almost certainly nothing wrong with the vaccines from India or any other vaccines in Cuba or anywhere else.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

Hopefully we can continue to work to eliminate even the rare risk of these kinds of awful tragedies too.

And no, this is not the MMR vaccine that is used in the United States in case anyone is wondering.

More on Vaccination Tragedies

How Often Do Severe Events Occur After Vaccines?

Most of us understand that vaccine reactions are usually mild. While severe events can occur after vaccines, they are very rare.

“That measles infections can cause neurologic side effects on rare occasions is known, but the complication rate for vaccinations is low. After infectious measles encephalitis, risk of an autistic regression has occurred in 1/1000 to 1/10,000 cases. If the trend toward delaying vaccination continues because parents remain misinformed about the MMR, the number of children with neurologic complications of measles or rubella will increase. ”

Chez et al on Immunizations, Immunology, and Autism

Unfortunately, being worried about severe reactions sometimes scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

How Often Do Severe Events Occur After Vaccines?

Hopefully, realizing just how rare these severe reactions are will help more parents understand that all of the benefits of vaccines (very big) truly do outweigh the risks (very small).

How often do severe events occur after MMR vaccines?
How often do severe events occur after MMR vaccines?

So how often do these events occur?

Are there any statistics?

Using the MMR vaccine information statement as an example, we see that it lists the following severe events:

  • deafness – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • brain damage – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine
  • severe allergic reaction – which occurs in less than 1 out of a million doses
  • serious injury or death – which is so rare to be associated with MMR that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine

Wait.

Why can’t we tell if these problems are caused by the vaccine?

In some cases, the association is based on a few case reports.

“With respect to the recent claims of deaths caused by MMR vaccine, drawing broad cause and effect conclusions between vaccination and deaths based on spontaneous reports to VAERS, some of which might be anecdotal or second hand, is not a scientifically valid practice. In fact, a review of the VAERS data reveals that many of the death reports for MMR vaccine involved children with serious preexisting medical conditions or were likely unrelated to vaccination (e.g., accidents). These complete VAERS reports and any accompanying medical records, autopsy reports and death certificates have been reviewed in depth by FDA and CDC physicians and no concerning patterns have emerged that would suggest a causal relationship with the MMR vaccine and death.”

Miller et al on Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?

Mostly though, these type of severe events just occur so rarely after getting vaccinated.

“As for vaccines causing death, again so few deaths can plausibly be attributed to vaccines that it is hard to assess the risk statistically.”

WHO on Six common misconceptions about immunization

At a rate of less than 1 in a million doses, it gets hard to know if something was really caused by the vaccine or if it was just a coincidence, as you don’t have a lot of cases to compare with each other.

Still, it should be reassuring that even if they were caused by the vaccine, these serious events are extremely rare.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

More on How Often Severe Events Occur After Vaccines

Why Is Lying About Vaccines Not Criminal?

We are in the middle of the largest measles outbreaks in over 25 years.

Measles cases and deaths are on the rise all over the world.

Much of that rise, especially in the developed world, is because parents believe the misinformation that the vocal anti-vax folks are pushing.

Why Is Lying About Vaccines Not Criminal?

Which has to make you wonder – why is lying about vaccines and scarring parents into skipping or delaying vaccines not criminal?

A sociopath wrote this... Is that the one true statement in Kennedy's rant?
A sociopath wrote this… Is that the one true statement in Kennedy’s rant?

For example, take the above Instagram post by Robert F Kennedy, Jr.

His claim that the “guidelines stipulate that a child would need to experience anaphylactic shock — a life threatening reaction — to EVERY vaccine-requiring eight near death experiences — to qualify for an exemption” simply isn’t true.

A severe allergic reaction is a contraindication to getting vaccinated.

If a child had a severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, to a previous dose of any vaccine or to a vaccine component, then they would get an medical exemption to that vaccine. They could also easily get a medical exemption to all other vaccines that used those same components, such as gelatin, eggs, or yeast, etc.

It is silly to think that you would have to have an anaphylactic reaction to each and every vaccine, as Kennedy claims, to get a medical exemption to getting vaccinated.

Did the CDC publish new guidelines in 2019 changing what is considered to be a contraindication, another Kennedy claim?

Mild to moderate local reactions and low-grade or moderate fever were removed as a condition commonly mispercieved as a contraindication or precaution, but that was done last January. There were no big changes recently!
Mild to moderate local reactions and low-grade or moderate fever were removed as a condition commonly mispercieved as a contraindication or precaution, but that was done last January. There were no big changes recently!

Nope.

And the thing is, these things are incorrectly perceived as contraindications or precautions to vaccination because they are not a problem with vaccination!

You would have to be a sociopath to put kids at risk for a vaccine-preventable disease for no good reason!

For example, why skip the HPV vaccine just because a child is already infection with HPV? Are they infected with all of the strains of HPV that the vaccine protects against? There is no extra risk of cervical cancer from the vaccine if you are already infected, just the fact that you might get cervical cancer because you were already infected before you got protected from the vaccine!

Why is it not homicide to scare someone away from getting vaccinated and protected with a vaccine that prevents cancer by spreading this type of misinformation?

Why is lying about vaccines not criminal?

More on Why Is Lying About Vaccines Not Criminal?

Is the TODAY Show Stoking Vaccine Fears?

We know that historically, the media has done a very good job of scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

From pushing vaccine misinformation and vaccine scare stories to providing false balance about vaccine stories, many in the media have promoted myths and fake controversies when reporting about vaccines.

Things have been getting better though.

Is the TODAY Show Stoking Vaccine Fears?

Or have they…

The TODAY Show later deleted this tweet about vaccines.
The TODAY Show later deleted this tweet about vaccines.

Do you see what’s wrong with the TODAY Show story about Jessica Biel?

Are they really asking whether or not vaccines are safe?!?

It’s not a debate!

Vaccines are safe!

HuffPo called out the Today Show for posting an irresponsible message about vaccines.
Even HuffPo called out the Today Show for posting an irresponsible message about vaccines.

Did they really get called out by HuffPo for irresponsibly covering vaccines?

You might realize how ironic that is if you remember just how bad HuffPo used to be, regularly posting some of the worst anti-vaccine stories. Have they gotten better?

The HuffPo is better, but certainly not perfect, by any means…

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr is not a vaccine skeptic!

The TODAY Show’s Coverage of Vaccines

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that the TODAY show has scared parents away from vaccines. After all, they are the ones who aired excerpts of Vaccine Roulette, the show which many people credit with starting the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Autism is not associated with vaccines. It isn't a debate!
Autism is not associated with vaccines. It isn’t a debate!

More recently, the TODAY Show had Robert De Niro on to talk about Andrew Wakefield‘s VAXXED.

The TODAY Show fixed their mistake and irresponsibe headline that could stoke vaccine fears.
The TODAY Show fixed their mistake and irresponsibe headline that could stoke vaccine fears.

After so many missteps in the past, the TODAY Show shouldn’t be making these kinds of mistakes anymore.

If they do, there will be plenty of folks ready to call them out.

More on the TODAY is Show Stoking Vaccine Fears