Tag: scared

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

As more folks are calling out vocal vaccine deniers, many are also learning the role of the media in helping fuel the anti-vaccine movement.

“Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”

Ben Goldacre on The MMR story that wasn’t

Believe it or not, there likely would not have been a big scare over the DPT vaccine in the 1970s and 80s or concerns about the MMR vaccine if the media hadn’t given so much attention to the anti-vaccine players involved.

False Balance About Vaccines at the Chicago Tribune

Folks in the media have learned their lesson though, right?

“Balance? There is no balance. There is mainstream, superstrong consensus about the value of vaccination, and on the other side … nothing else, since there is no other side. The media have made parents worry about vaccines in a lame effort to provide balance and all points of view.”

Arthur Caplan on There is no other side to the vaccine debate

Well, apparently not all of them…

If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong...
If you are quoting anti-vaccine activists, then you are doing something wrong…

Why would the Chicago Tribune devote nearly 20% of an article to a parent who is against vaccines, especially without correcting her misinformation?

Why haven’t they learned that spreading this kind of misinformation is what scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids in the first place?

Are vaccinations about parent choice or public safety? That’s the title of the Chicago Tribune article. And maybe that’s why Illinois is among top 5 states for measles as debate heats up, the rest of the title…

How about we give parents a chance to make informed choices without being influenced by propaganda and misinformation?

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What Are the Greatest Tricks Anti-Vaccine Folks Use to Persuade Parents to Skip Vaccines?

We are hearing a lot about anti-vaccine misinformation these days.

John Birch (B) and the other anti-vaccine heroes of the day on their way to fight the vaccination monster.
John Birch (B) and the other anti-vaccine heroes of the day on their way to fight the vaccination monster.

And how the anti-vaccine movement is using social media to persuade parents to skip their child’s vaccines, leaving them unprotected.

So how do they do it?

What Are the Greatest Tricks Anti-Vaccine Folks Use to Persuade Parents to Skip Vaccines?

If you want to understand the anti-vaccine movement, the first thing to know is that they have been around for centuries. That they are using social media is of course new, but their messages are basically the same.

They use scare tactics to try and make you believe that:

  1. vaccines are dangerous and injure people
  2. vaccines aren’t necessary because diseases are mild
  3. vaccines don’t even work

And you need all three elements, after all, even if you thought that vaccines were sometimes dangerous, you might want to vaccinate your kids if you thought that vaccines could stop an even more dangerous vaccine-preventable disease, right?

That’s why they keep all of your fear focused on the vaccines!

It is this fear that allows several cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies to take hold and change your perception of risk into something that is much different from reality.

And that’s maybe the ultimate trick – making you think that the risks of vaccines are greater than the risks of catching a vaccine-preventable disease or even greater than the risks of having a vaccine-preventable disease.

But what about the graphs they have, the autism studies, the vaccine injury stories, Whistleblowers, complaints about saline placebos, the idea that better hygiene and sanitation fixed everything, and all of the claims of toxins and the conspiracy theories about Big Pharma?

Anti-vaccine folks are constantly moving the goalposts

These and every new argument they come up with are easily refuted.

When will you stop listening to them?

“Thank you Chairman Alexander, Senator Murray, and distinguished committee members for the opportunity to speak today. Good morning, everyone. My name is Ethan Lindenberger and I am a senior at Norwalk High School. My mother is an anti-vaccine advocate that believes vaccines cause autism, brain damage, and do not benefit the health and safety of society despite the fact such opinions have been debunked numerous times by the scientific community. I went my entire life without vaccinations against diseases such as measles, chicken pox, or even polio. However, in December of 2018, I began catching up on my missed immunizations despite my mother’s disapproval, eventually leading to an international story centered around my decisions and public disagreement with my mother’s views.”

Testimony of Ethan Lindenberger Student at Norwalk High school Before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee March 5th, 2019

Should kids really have to hope that they grow up without getting a vaccine-preventable disease so that they can get themselves vaccinated?

“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

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

It might be a challenge, but it is worth the effort to be well informed about vaccines. It is worth knowing that your kids are vaccinated and protected.

More on the Greatest Tricks Anti-Vaccine Folks Use to Persuade Parents to Skip Vaccines


Seven New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions, here’s one for the top of your list:

  1. I won’t complain about my kids being kept out of school during an outbreak, if I intentionally didn’t vaccinate them.

Yes, apparently that was a thing this past year…

Not surprisingly, parents lost their challenge to get their unvaccinated kids back into their Waldorf school during a chicken pox outbreak.
Not surprisingly, parents lost their challenge to get their unvaccinated kids back into their Waldorf school during a chicken pox outbreak.

It is an important reminder that there are consequences if you choose to not vaccine your kids.

In addition to the risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease, the risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease and getting someone else sick, there is the chance that your kids will be quarantined and kept out of daycare or school until the outbreak is over.

Six More New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

Need some more?

  1. I will not travel out of the country without getting caught up on my vaccines. Remember, most outbreaks are started when an intentionally unvaccinated person travels out of the country, gets exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease, comes home while they are still in the incubation period and not showing symptoms, and then eventually get sick, exposing others.
  2. I won’t let a small, yet vocal anti-vaccine minority scare me into a poor decision about my child’s vaccines
  3. I will not lie to get a religious vaccine exemption. Is your religion really against vaccinating and protecting your child?
  4. I will avoid anti-vaccine echo chambers when doing my research about vaccines.
  5. I will learn about the cognitive biases that might me keeping me from vaccinating and protecting my kids.
  6. I will not repeat an anti-vaccine point that has already been refuted a thousand times.

Vaccines are safe, effective, and necessary.

This year, resolve to make the right choice and get your kids vaccinated and protected.

More on Seven New Year’s Vaccine Resolutions for 2019

How Are Australia’s New Vaccine Laws Working?

Have you heard about the No Jab, No Play / Pay laws in Australia?

Did Australia's new vaccine laws prompt anti-vaccine folks to put up these billboards that eventually got vandalized?
Did Australia’s new vaccine laws prompt anti-vaccine folks to put up these billboards that eventually got vandalized?

Unlike the No Pass, No Play rules that we have in Texas, in which kids can’t participate in extracurricular activities unless they pass all of their classes, No Jab, No Play / Pay has to do with getting kids vaccinated.

They were enacted in 2016 due to an increase in outbreaks of vaccine preventable disease, a rise in the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation, and more parents choosing to delay or skip their child’s vaccines. As in the United States, the real problem has been clusters of unvaccinated children in certain regions of the country, as the great majority of people in Australia vaccinate their kids.

How Are Australia’s New Vaccine Laws Working?

As expected, Australia’s new vaccine laws have been a success.

On the national level, No Jab, No Pay has meant that children need to be fully immunized “as a requirement for parents to be eligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement, Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.”

Five-year-olds in Victoria are now better protected against diseases prevented by vaccination than in any other state in Australia, new data shows.

Victoria Leads The Nation When It Comes To Vaccination Rates

But it is only in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria that children need to be immunized to attend childcare – No Jab, No Play. Additionally, children need to be immunized to attend kindergarten in Queensland and Victoria.

An increase in vaccination rates, by 2 to 5%, has been seen nationwide though.

What about the idea that No Jab, No Play has lead to a drop in preschool enrollments?

KATHARINA GORKA, NON-VACCINATING PARENT: I don’t think it is fair, to be honest. It makes me feel like we are a bit excluded from society, yeah.
PETER MCCUTCHEON: Did you ever think, “I’ll get my son vaccinated so I get around this pre-school problem”?
KATHARINA GORKA: No, I never thought about that.
PETER MCCUTCHEON: Why not?
KATHARINA GORKA: Because I have a set opinion on vaccinations and that is not going to change.

Some pre-schools experience drop in enrolments over ‘no jab, no play’ policy

The law about attending daycare and kindergarten just came into effect in New South Wales, in 2018, but has been in effect since 2016 in Victoria.

We will have to wait a few more months for the 2018 numbers, but preschool enrollment in Victoria was way up after they instituted their strict vaccine requirements!

In Australia during 2017, 339,243 children aged 4 or 5 were enrolled in a preschool program, representing an increase of 2.6% on the previous year’s figure. The largest growth rates were in the Australian Capital Territory (6%) and Victoria (5%).

Australian Bureau of Statistics on Preschool Education, Australia, 2017

Maybe folks just don’t want to go to care centers that had been pandering to anti-vaccine parents

Still, some vaccine advocates don’t think that No Jab, No Play / Pay laws are a good idea for Australia. Many also don’t think that it is a good idea that some Australian doctors are starting to refuse to see unvaccinated children, a practice that seems to have been exported from the United States.

Others don’t see alternatives, as they feel that they have been trying for a long time to educate parents that vaccines are safe and necessary, and this is one of the few ways that can reliably improve vaccination rates.

More on Australia’s New Vaccine Laws

Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting

Did you see the video of the retired hospital worker, an emergency room technician, at the ACIP meeting earlier this year?

A retired emergency room technician gave a speech at an ACIP meeting because she is upset that hospital workers have to get yearly flu shots.
A retired emergency room technician gave a speech at an ACIP meeting because she is upset that hospital workers have to  either get yearly flu shots or wear a face mask.

Although brief, and emotional, she hit a lot of anti-vaccine talking points and managed to somehow talk about adult autistics walking around the mall with diapers and helmets at least four times.

Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting

Praised by anti-vaccine folks for being “explosive” and a “bombshell,” all the speech really does is reveal how easily influenced some folks are by the modern anti-vaccine movement.

“I don’t come here with any degree.”

The only true and one of the most important things she says comes at the beginning. Although it certainly isn’t a requirement to have a degree to speak your mind, in a room full of scientists and doctors who study health policy and vaccines as their life’s work, she was there to tell them that they were wrong.

“No one believes in the flu shots. My colleagues. I didn’t. Because the efficacy – and I won’t give you data, you created the data. 10% one year. 18% another year. 40% at best. And the FluMist you gave to our children from 2 to 8 years for almost 4 years – it never worked. 3%. Oh well.”

Most people actually understand that flu vaccines are important and many get a flu shot each year. Even more get their kids vaccinated and protected each year.

In most years, the flu vaccine is at about 40 to 50% effective at preventing the flu, but has other benefits, including preventing a severe case of the flu, getting hospitalized, and keeping you from dying with the flu!

Did a drop in flu vaccine coverage help contribute to a rise in flu deaths?
Did a drop in flu vaccine coverage help contribute to a rise in flu deaths?

The idea that “no one believes in flu shots” is silly. It is certainly possible that no one this speaker knows believes in flu shots, as many anti-vaccine folks exist in an echo chamber and only hear and read negative things about vaccines.

Her statements about flu vaccine efficacy are also way off, especially about FluMist, as there was only evidence that it didn’t work well against H1N1 flu strains for a few years.

“And then came your mandates. And then came your recommendations. So you know what, for four years before I retired I put a mask on. 12 hour shifts. It wasn’t easy to breath. But that’s how much I didn’t believe in your efficacy.”

Neither the CDC or ACIP mandate that hospital workers get a yearly flu shot.

It is recommended and it is the ethical thing to do, so that we protect our most vulnerable patients, including those who can’t be vaccinated, but the CDC doesn’t issue mandates.

“But the truth. The public’s truth. My observation – which is the first step in scientific theory – they didn’t believe in your shot.”

Making an observation is actually the first step in the scientific method. But you don’t stop there. Why don’t they believe in flu vaccines? Are they scared about all of the anti-vaccine propaganda that they see and read on the Internet or even from anti-vaccine friends or coworkers?

“This year I retired. I’m grateful for that, because my soul was sick about what I saw go on. That flu shot was crazy. First it was 10%. How can you do data? Which 10 got the shot out of a 100?”

How do they know which 10 got the shot?

Believe it or not, when they tell us about flu vaccine effectiveness, they are not basing that number on each and every person who got a flu vaccine. They do a study, enroll patients, see if they get flu, see if they had a flu vaccine, compare them to other patients, etc. It’s actually very easy to tell which ones got the shot…

“I’m looking around, some of you are my age. And if I’m mistaken, I apologize. But I’m in a generation where I got 7 shots. 26 years later, my daughter got 10. Her son got, maybe 60. My new grandson is expected to get maybe 72, and I just watched you add more.”

Yes, a lot has changed from her generation.

Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?
Four generations of vaccines or vaccine misinformation?

Our now vaccinated kids don’t die from Hib meningitis, Hib epiglotittis, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, chicken pox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, etc., and they don’t get congenital rubella syndrome!

And for the record, her new grandson won’t need 72 shots or more.

They didn’t add any more at that ACIP meeting she gave her speech at either.

“Robert Kennedy, Jr – do you know what he says? His family started Special Olympics – there were no autistic kids. He says, where are the 40 year olds wearing diapers with helmets on at the mall if you misdiagnosed them. If you missed them, because you say it’s not vaccines,  where were the special ed classes for people in my generation – there weren’t any. Because they didn’t exist.”

Special education classes didn’t exist back then, because we didn’t start getting things like that until passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. Before that, many states actually had laws excluding special needs children from school!

So there weren’t any special ed classes because they weren’t available, not because they weren’t needed.

And as the first school for autistic children, the Sybil Elgar School, was established in 1965, it should be obvious that her comments about autistic adults are not only wrong, they are offensive.

“I don’t care what you say that the autism and vaccines don’t exist – it does. I watched a perfectly healthy beautiful 2-year-old get those shots and become a severe autistic child. And guess what, he will be 40 and walking around the mall with a diaper on and helmet.”

This is everything that is wrong with the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Continuing to push the idea that vaccines are associated with autism and being locked into a deficit model of thinking about autism, so that when you look at your child, all you see is an adult with a “diaper on and helmet,” instead of beautiful autistic 2-year-old.

Ironically, she ended her speech with this quote by William Wilberforce.

“Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.”

William Wilberforce

Nothing she said was true and some of it was actually offensive.

You can’t say you don’t know now.

More on the Retired Hospital Worker’s Flu Shot Speech at the ACIP Meeting

Why Do Some People Think That Vaccines Cause AFM?

So we know that vaccines don’t cause acute flaccid myelitis.

Consider a five-year-old in Maryland who recently came down with symptoms of AFM.

Was he recently vaccinated?

Nope. It had been some time since his four-year-old vaccines. Almost a year. And he had not gotten a flu vaccine yet.

What he did have were worsening symptoms about two weeks after he had seemed to get over a cold, something he has in common with most other kids with AFM.

“To try to pin a tragic yet uncommon neurological condition caused by enteroviruses on vaccines is dangerous and puts more kids at risk.”

Scott Krugman, MD

As with this case, the CDC reports no correlation with vaccines in the cases that they have investigated.

And remember, some of these kids have been unvaccinated!

That makes you wonder why some folks actually think that vaccines are associated with AFM, doesn’t it?

Why Do Some People Think That Vaccines Cause AFM?

That’s right, as you are likely suspecting, the usual suspects are pushing anti-vaccine propaganda and promoting the idea to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“…there are many other reasons to suspect vaccine-related mechanisms of causation for AFM in the U.S., a primary one being that the scientific literature has documented paralysis as an adverse reaction to vaccination for decades!”

The Non-Polio Illness That “Looks Just Like Polio” by Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, President, Children’s Health Defense

If any of these kids had recently gotten the oral polio vaccine, then sure, an adverse reaction to the vaccination would be at the top of the list of possible causes. After all, we know that VAPP can occur after OPV, but that vaccine hasn’t been used in the United States since 2000, when we switched to IPV.

Why do these folks think that they have it all figured out?

Vaccines are not causing AFM because of needle puncture wounds or tonsillectomies.
Vaccines are not causing AFM because of needle puncture wounds or tonsillectomies.

The AFM outbreaks happen at the beginning of the school year, when kids are all getting their shots, right?

Nope. They happen during the summer and early fall, peaking in August. And despite what some folks think, most parents don’t wait until the end of summer, just before school starts, to vaccinate their kids. Plus, most kids don’t even need vaccines before the start of the school year. Kids typically only get vaccines before starting kindergarten and middle school.

But the outbreaks do coincide with the when kids get their flu shots, right?

How many kids get flu shots in June and July?

If it was flu shots, the peak would be in October and November, when most kids get their flu shots and we would continue to see cases through December and January.

Many anti-vaccine websites and Facebook groups are pushing the idea that vaccines cause AFM.
Many anti-vaccine websites and Facebook groups are pushing the idea that vaccines cause AFM.

Of course, there is absolutely no evidence that flu vaccines, or any other vaccines, cause AFM.

What about the journal article that Brandy Vaughan posts as evidence?

“By reviewing vaccine-associated inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, this study describes the current knowledge on whether the safety signal was coincidental, as in the case of multiple sclerosis with several vaccines, or truly reflected a causal link, as in narcolepsy with cataplexy following pandemic H1N1 influenza virus vaccination.”

Vaccine-associated inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system: from signals to causation

Even if you just read the abstract, as many folks do, you get a good idea where they are going with the article. It talks about how the claims of an association between multiple sclerosis and vaccines were proven to be purely coincidental.

Remember, correlation does not imply causation.

With AFM, you don’t even have much correlation to imply causation though!

Most cases occur just before we start giving flu vaccines and they don’t occur every year or in every state.

But doesn’t the article mention myelitis?

“Most of the published associations are based on individual case reports or small series of patients.”

Vaccine-associated inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system: from signals to causation

It does mention myelitis, just like it mentions MS – where an association has been shown to be purely coincidental.

Remember, case reports are not good evidence.

“…there are many other reasons to suspect vaccine-related mechanisms of causation for AFM in the U.S., a primary one being that the scientific literature has documented paralysis as an adverse reaction to vaccination for decades!”

The Non-Polio Illness That “Looks Just Like Polio” by Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, President, Children’s Health Defense

But isn’t acute flaccid myelitis listed as a possible side affect in the package inserts for our vaccines?

Uh, TRANSVERSE myelitis and ACUTE DISSEMINATED ENCEPHALOmyelitis are not the same as acute flaccid myeltitis.
Uh, TRANSVERSE myelitis and ACUTE DISSEMINATED ENCEPHALOmyelitis are not the same as acute flaccid myelitis.

While it should be clear that AFM isn’t the same as ADEM and TM, it is very important to understand that even when those other conditions are listed in a package insert, it is in the section that is marked “without regard to causality.”

This isn’t evidence that vaccines cause AFM!

But didn’t the BMJ publish a study about Vaccines and the U.S. Mystery of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

BMJ seems to allow anyone to publish responses to their articles online...
BMJ seems to allow anyone to publish responses to their articles online…

Nope. What they did is let someone publish what is essentially an online letter to the editor. And anti-vaccine folks are spreading it around like it is an actual BMJ study…

Surprised?

You shouldn’t be.

This is how anti-vaccine propaganda works.

Why are vaccine injury lawyers talking about AFM?
Why are vaccine injury lawyers talking about AFM?

It’s no coincidence that anti-vaccine folks are trying so hard to associate the outbreaks of AFM with vaccines. What better way to scare folks and make them think that vaccines are dangerous?

AFM is all that anti-vaccine folks are talking about these days...
AFM is all that anti-vaccine folks are talking about these days…

How are ‘we’ working on a vaccine for AFM if we don’t even know what causes AFM???

But that’s how many anti-vaccine folks think. Everything is a vaccine injury. Everything is a conspiracy.

Don’t believe them. Vaccines are safe and necessary.

More on Anti-Vaccine Propaganda About AFM

 

What’s the Real Risk from the Contaminated Vaccines in India?

Most people understand that polio vaccines have helped to control and get us close to eradicating polio.

Many even know that there are two types of polio vaccine – the inactivated Salk vaccine and the live Sabin vaccine.

Some might even know that there are actually three strains of polio virus that we have traditionally gotten vaccinated against, and that one of those strains, type 2, has already been eradicated.

“In April 2016 a switch was implemented from trivalent OPV to bivalent OPV in routine immunization programmes.”

OPV Cessation

That’s why we have switched to using a bivalent OPV which only contains type 1 and 3 serotypes.

Contaminated Vaccines in India

What does all of this have to do with the news of contaminated vaccines in India?

“At least three batches of polio vaccines containing 1.5 lakh vials have been found contaminated with type 2 polio virus, putting at risk India’s “polio free” status as children born after April 2016 — when the type 2 virus was withdrawn worldwide including in India — do not have immunity to this particular virus, sources said.”

Unfortunately, some contaminated vaccines were actually administered to children in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Telengana, and Uttar Pradesh before the contamination was discovered.

Will these kids get polio?

No, as the vaccines weren’t contaminated with wild polio virus.

It seems that Bio-Med Private Limited was still producing and distributing polio vaccine with the type 2 vaccine virus, even though this type of vaccine was discontinued a few years ago.

Why?

We will  hopefully find out, as the managing director of Bio-Med Pvt Ltd has been arrested, but we don’t know yet.

We do know that there is little risk from these vaccines and they won’t put India’s “polio free” status at risk.

Why would there be any risk from kids getting an extra vaccine virus strain?

It’s because the type 2 strain of polio is the most likely to cause cVDPV, or outbreaks of polio that are actually caused by the polio vaccine.

Fortunately, these outbreaks are very rare.

A dose of IPV is the backup plan to make sure a problems with the switch to bOPV doesn't end up in a tragedy.
A dose of IPV is the backup plan to make sure any problems with the switch to bOPV doesn’t end up in a tragedy.

But kids in the area are at even less at risk from these “contaminated” vaccines because as part of the plan to switch from trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV) to bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV), they likely got a dose of IPV, which includes protection against all three polio virus strains.

Not that this means that it isn’t a problem that a company was making and distributing a vaccine that kids shouldn’t have been getting.

That is terrible!

It just isn’t as big a danger as some folks are making it out to be. It is extremely unlikely that there will be any cases of polio in India, and definitely not a resurgence of polio because of these vaccines, as some have suggested.

The real risk will be that an isolated event will scare folks away from getting vaccinated and protected, even though we know that these events are rare and that vaccines are safe.

More on Contaminated Vaccines in India