Tag: stories of vaccine-preventable diseases

Did Bill Gates Vaccinate His Own Kids?

The myth that Bill Gates didn’t vaccinate his own kids was debunked nearly a year ago, but that doesn’t keep anti-vaccine folks from bringing it up…

“A hoax website published an unfounded story claiming that a former doctor for Bill Gates said the philanthropist refused to vaccinate his own children. Gates and his wife, Melinda, have invested billions of dollars to research, develop and deliver vaccines around the world to help reduce child mortality.”

Website falsely claims Bill Gates refused to vaccinate his own children

Not surprisingly, they don’t mention the doctor’s name.

Did Bill Gates Vaccinate His Own Kids?

Actually, they don’t provide any evidence at all, which seems to be just fine with most folks who are anti-vaccine and who are simply looking for anything to help them justify their decision to leave their kids unvaccinated and unprotected.

Which closed door medical symposium were they at?

What about the idea that you aren’t violating HIPAA or breaking doctor-patient confidentiality because you are talking to other doctors?

Fortunately, that’s not how HIPAA works.

You can only talk to other providers if they are also involved in the treatment of your patient. You can’t tell other doctors confidential details about your patients just because they are also doctors!

You could tell them things you read about them publicly though, including the fact that Bill and Melinda Gates understood the importance of vaccines long before they had their first child.

“Twenty-five years ago, we read an article that said hundreds of thousands of kids in poor countries were dying from diarrhea. That surprise helped crystallize our values. We believe in a world where innovation is for everyone—where no child dies from a disease it’s possible to prevent. But what we saw was a world still shaped by inequity.”

Bill & Melinda Gates on Our Annual Letter

Do you will still believe that Bill and Melinda Gates didn’t vaccinate their kids?

“I’d like to start by telling you about my wife Melinda’s Aunt Myra. We see her a few times a year. Aunt Myra worked for many years taking reservations for Delta Airlines. She lived in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina, and then she moved to Dallas, Melinda’s hometown. She loves to see our kids. When we all get together, she’ll sit down on the floor and play games with them. Aunt Myra also has polio. She’s in braces, and she has been ever since she was a little girl.

Our children only know what polio is because of their aunt. Otherwise, the disease would just be another historical fact they learn about in school.”

Bill Gates

What do you need to see to convince you?

“While the rich world is cutting down in tobacco use, it’s growing in the poor world. AIDS and TB are really a phenomenon of the poor world. When I say the poor world of course I mean the majority of the world, anything outside the enclave that most of us here are privileged to live in and the kind of vaccines and things that we take for granted not only for ourselves, but also for our children.”

Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2001

A pic of them getting vaccinated, like we did with Mark Zuckerberg?

“So many of us who are parents in the room go to our pediatricians; and we take for granted the vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella. But things you don’t even think about getting in this country are real scourges in the developing world. And so that’s where we started with the foundation and from there we branched out into doing more work in AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. But I think it’s important for you all to realize that at the core of what we do are children’s issues.”

Melinda French Gates at the Children’s Hospital Foundation

A copy of their children’s immunization records, or would you just think that they were forged?

“It still shocks me today to think about how many children go without basic vaccines that you and I take for granted. A few years ago, Bill and I read a newspaper article about diseases in the developing world. We learned that millions of children die from diseases we thought had been eradicated, diseases like pertussis, hepatitis B, tetanus, and yellow fever. Every year, nearly three quarters of a million people, most of them children, die of measles. Measles!

These children are dying not because we don’t have vaccines to prevent these diseases. They’re dying because the vaccines we have aren’t reaching the people who need them.”

Melinda French Gates at the 2007 World Economic Forum

How about a statement that their kids are fully vaccinated?

All three of Bill and Melinda Gates' children are fully vaccinated.

Be more skeptical.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

Of course Bill and Melinda Gates vaccinate their kids.

More on Bill Gates

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

Remember when Andrew Wakefield went to Minnesota during their large measles outbreak?

It’s reminiscent of the NRA holding one of their conventions in a city after a big shooting, isn’t it?

Kennedy Has a Fundraiser in the Middle of the Largest and Longest Measles Outbreak in Recent New York History

While it seemed like a big outbreak at the time, those 13 cases would actually be considered rather small these days. In fact, a more recent outbreak in Minnesota, in 2017, had at least 79 cases!

And not surprisingly, anti-vaccine folks also visited the state to try and keep that outbreak going!

Do these folks ever learn?

Flash forward to 2019…

Since September of 2018, New York has seen over 332 cases of measles in two big outbreaks in Brooklyn and Rockland County.

So where does Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. choose to go for a fundraiser?

Where does he show up on TV to push his message about vaccine dangers?

Yup, New York City.

Lori Stokes: “Can I switch gears for a minute and talk about vaccines…”

Kennedy: “When I was a kid, we got three vaccines. That I took. My kids got 64 mandated vaccines.”

Rosanna Scotto: “How many? 64?”

Kennedy: “64”

Rosanna Scotto: “Wow!”

Kennedy: “Mandated doses. Today’s kids get 72, by the end of next year it will be 75. It’s all driven by profit. Most of these diseases are illnesses that you don’t need to be vaccinated for. “

Fox 5 Good Day New York

Wow indeed. That sounds like a lot because kids typically only get 13 vaccines that protect them against 16 vaccine-preventable diseases. We don’t even have 64 vaccines!

You only get to a number like 64 or 72 or 75 if you inflate the count to make it sound scarier.

In reality, if you count a yearly flu vaccine, kids get about 54 doses of vaccines through age 18.

Are any for diseases that you don’t need to be vaccinated for?

Which disease do you want your kids to get?

Do you want them to get tetanus, meningitis, epiglottitis, diphtheria, meningococcemia, cancer (hepatitis B and HPV infections) or to have grandchildren with congenital rubella syndrome?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are necessary.

Ask yourself why folks like this are still allowed to push this kind of misinformation on folks, especially in the middle of an outbreak.

More on Kennedy’s Fundraisers

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


What Happened When Sweden Stop Using the DPT Vaccine?

Do you ever wonder what would happen if we stopped vaccinating our kids?

You don’t have to wonder.

What Happened When Sweden Stop Using the DPT Vaccine?

It’s been done…

Remember when Sweden stopped using the DPT vaccine?

Endemic pertussis returned when they stopped using the DPT vaccine in Sweden.
Endemic pertussis returned when they stopped using the DPT vaccine in Sweden.

Between 1979 and 1996, Sweden suspended vaccination against pertussis because of concerns about the DPT vaccine.

Justus Ström's data was wrong...
Justus Ström‘s data was wrong…

And what happened?

“In 1979, the Swedish medical society abandoned whole-cell pertussis vaccine and decided to wait for a new, safer, more effective vaccine – a strategy that was soon adopted as national policy. During 1980-83, annual incidence for children aged 0–4 years increased to 3370 per 100000, with rates of serious complications approaching global rates. In subsequent years, Sweden reported more than 10000 cases annually with an incidence exceeding 100 per 100000, comparable to rates reported in some developing countries.”

Ganarosa et al on Impact of anti-vaccine movements on pertussis control: the untold story.

Pertussis came back.

In fact, endemic pertussis came back.

“Our evaluation of pertussis in the unimmunized child population gave an answer to the question of whether pertussis nowadays is a harmless disease which does not demand general vaccination. The present situation regarding pertussis in Sweden and the low efficacy of the antimicrobial treatment indicate an urgent need to prevent the disease by general vaccination as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Romanus et al on Pertussis in Sweden after the cessation of general immunization in 1979.

Of course, they already had a safe and effective vaccine at the time.

All of the claims against the whole cell pertussis vaccine ended up being untrue.

The incidence of SIDS didn't drop when they stopped using the DPT vaccine in Sweden.
The incidence of SIDS didn’t drop when they stopped using the DPT vaccine in Sweden.

Not surprisingly, even though they weren’t using the DPT vaccine, rates of SIDS didn’t drop until they implemented the back to sleep recommendations.

If vaccines are associated with SIDS, shouldn’t the incidence of SIDS have decreased when they stopped giving infants the DPT vaccine?

More on What Happens If We Stop Vaccinating

Alternative Names for Vaccine Preventable Diseases

You know all of the names – measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, etc.

But do you know why they used to call 10-day measles?

And which disease causes a 100-day cough?

Alternative Names for Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Back in the day, when these diseases were more common, they used much more descriptive terms and nicknames, in addition to their official names.

Why was measles known as 10-day measles?

Because there was also a 3-day measles!

MeaslesRubella
10-day measles3-day measles
red measlesGerman measles
rubeola

Unfortunately, 10-day measles made you feel miserable for 10 days!

Although a vaccine was available, it took a little more time to get measles under better control.

Can you guess which disease was known to cause a 100-day cough?

That’s right, it’s whooping cough or pertussis.

“I honestly felt like it was never going to go away. The doctor told me it was 100 day cough, so I was counting the days while Googling to see if there was anything that could help. I tried everything, you name it, I tried it, and nothing worked. It came to 120 days and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t gone. I then researched and found that babies take longer to get over whooping cough.”

Fern’s Story – Whooping Cough

Fortunately, the cough doesn’t typically last that long if you are vaccinated and still get pertussis.

What do they call rabies?

Mad dog disease.

But that’s an easy one.

Which disease was known as “the Strangling Angel?”

“The breathing became much more difficult, with a kind of rattling stertor, as if the patient was actually strangling, the voice being exceeding hoarse and hollow, exactly resembling that from venereal ulcers in the fauces. This noise, in speaking and breathing, was so peculiar, that any person in the least conversant with the disease might easily know it by this odd noise; from whence, indeed, the Spanish physicians gave it the name of garrotillo, expressing the noise such make as are strangling with a rope.”

Edward Headlam Greenhow on Diphtheria

How about “The Crippler?”

Fight Polio Poster
Polio, also known as infantile paralysis, was known as “The Crippler.”

The “Speckled Monster?”

Even mild smallpox, as depicted on this WHO Smallpox Recognition Card, included flu like symptoms, a few weeks of pustules, and then waiting for the lesions to scab over...
Even mild smallpox, as depicted on this WHO Smallpox Recognition Card, included flu like symptoms, a few weeks of pustules, and then waiting for the lesions to scab over…

We forget these names, because we don’t see these diseases anymore.

“…for those trained in pediatrics in the 1970s, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) was a horror.”

Walter Orenstein

Do you remember that measles was called a “harmless killer?”

Be sure to think about how these now vaccine-preventable diseases got their nicknames before you think about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines.

More on Alternative Names for Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Remembering When Everyone Had Measles

In the pre-vaccine era, everyone got measles.

What was that like?

Remembering When Everyone Had Measles

Although the first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963, an improved version wasn't available until 1968.
Although the first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963, an improved version wasn’t available until 1968.

Well, for one thing, before we had a measles vaccine, having measles was considered a rite of passage for kids, but only because they had no choice except to eventually get it!

And when measles came to town, as it inevitably did, most folks got it, leading to missing weeks of school, play, and work, etc.

But it wasn’t all fun and games.

At best, measles left you feeling miserable.

Tragically for some, they didn’t survive having measles.

“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.

It should be clear that when measles was everywhere and everyone had measles, it could affect every aspect of your life.

Quarantines for measles were once very common, although everyone still ended up getting measles eventually.
Quarantines for measles were once very common, although everyone still ended up getting measles eventually.
In 1959, the Los Angeles Times reported that 80% of the kids in this school’s lower grades would be absent in an outbreak that had been ongoing since the previous month
Could you imagine your child’s college shutting down for two weeks because kids were getting sick? This was in 1956.
If measles was so mild, why were colleges shutting down for two weeks?
Quarantines were common to control outbreaks in 1949.
Too bad they didn’t have laptops in 1947, although even if they did, Will Jones would have been too sick to have worked from home when he had measles…
Remember the Lassie episode when Timmie had measles...
Remember the Lassie episode when Timmie had measles… When everyone got measles, measles was every were, even on TV.
Delaying a movie isn’t so bad…
But what about almost delaying a trip to the moon? Remember Apollo 13?
Measles deaths were common in 1952.

When everyone got measles, everyone had problems with measles.

We know what happens when immunization rates drop…

That’s why most of us are very glad to vaccinate and protect our kids. We don’t want them to get measles or any other vaccine-preventable diseases.

More on Remembering When Everyone Had Measles

Remembering Measles

I don’t remember treating any kids with measles in medical school or residency.

We certainly saw a lot of other now vaccine-preventable diseases when I was in training, from rotavirus and pneumococcal disease to meningococcal disease.

“When I graduated from medical school, many of the current vaccines were either not yet invented or just beginning to be widely used. I still remember what health care was like in the pre-vaccine era, and I remember that there seemed to be at least one child in each neighborhood who spent much of her life in an iron lung because of polio. As a young resident in pediatrics, I heard, on the whooping-cough ward, the coughing and choking of children with pneumonia. I remember the brain damage from encephalitis caused by measles, and the birth defects of babies whose mothers had had German measles during pregnancy. In my first years in pediatric practice, I remember making hospital rounds every morning and treating children with meningitis, and complications of chicken pox and other illnesses that have been either eliminated or lessened in severity by the widespread use of vaccines. Also, I remember more than a decade ago when Great Britain temporarily stopped the routine use of the DTP vaccine because of a reaction scare (which later turned out to be a false alarm) and consequently suffered a resurgence of whooping cough. Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns

But I trained in the post-elimination era for measles.

Remembering Measles

Although some folks only seem to have the Brady Bunch to use as a guide, fortunately there are many other ways to discover what measles used to be like.

I asked some of my old instructors…

“Typical case of measles – a couple days of high fever, with a sick (miserable) looking kid with running nose, bad cough, and red eyes. You can see Koplik’s spots if you know to look for them on the buccal mucosa (I describe them as grains of salts on red tablecloth). Fever gets higher and rash appears at peak of fever (day 3-4). The rash disappears with a brawny hyperpigmented appearance. The child frequently gets diagnosed with an ear infection. If no complications (ear infection or pneumonia), recovery is quick once the fever resolves, but these kids look really sick, miserable, and sad during the acute phase. They have a measly look.”

Jeed Gan, MD

After reading that account, I’m glad my kids are all vaccinated and protected and hopefully won’t ever get measles, as it sounds horrible.

Although I have never seen it, I can certainly imagine that measly look…

A child with measles and four days of the classic measles rash.
A child with measles and four days of the classic measles rash. Photo by CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice

What else can you imagine?

“I’ve often called measles ‘the harmless killer’ because, although most youngsters recover uneventfully, the disease a certain amount of really serious damage.”

Dr. Joseph Molner

Can you imagine intentionally leaving your kids unvaccinated and at risk of a harmless killer disease?

In this 1959 article in the Madera Tribune, Dr. Bundesen warns parents to take measles seriously.
In this 1959 article in the Madera Tribune, Dr. Bundesen warns parents to take measles seriously.

It is important to note that even a “mild” attack included a fever that could hit 104F or higher and, altogether the symptoms could last up to 12 days, as the cough often lingers after the rash has cleared up.

Measles is definitely contagious.
Measles is definitely contagious.

And in the pre-vaccine era, everyone ended up having measles, as it was so contagious.

Not everyone survived having measles though.

Even after improved sanitation and hygiene dropped mortality rates for measles and other diseases in the early part of the 20th Century, a lot of kids still died with measles.
Even after improved sanitation and hygiene dropped mortality rates for measles and other diseases in the early part of the 20th Century, a lot of kids still died with measles.

It was once well known that measles was not always so easy on kids.

1953 medical advice column
1953 medical advice column

Why have so many folks forgotten that fact?

Do you think that a 106F fever comes with a mild disease?
Do you think that a 106F fever comes with a mild disease?

Is it because vaccines work so well that we don’t see or hear about measles that much anymore?

Kids with measles feel awful.

At least we don’t hear about them until immunization rates drop and we start having more and more outbreaks.

Is that what it’s going to take to get you to vaccinate your kids? An outbreak in your city? Your child’s school? Or are you going to wait until your kids get sick?

More on Remembering Measles