Tag: sudden death

The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

It doesn’t take much to outrage folks these days.

It seems like there is always someone, someplace that is outraged about something.

Ironically, the latest faux outrage comes from anti-vaccine folks.

The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

What do anti-vaccine folks have to be outraged about, besides the idea that they think we are forcing them to vaccinate and protect their kids against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?

“Report this Doctor – Laughing At Injured is not acceptable”

Apparently, they think that a doctor was making fun of autistic kids during a flu shot clinic at a hospital:

T: So after this shot, am I going to be good at math, Z?

Z: You’re going to be really good, because you’re going to be fully autistic, instead of just partially….

Z: You know Tom, I’m wondering if we’ve just been hit with placebo, because I didn’t feel the needle, I didn’t feel the autism coming on. None of it.

This was similar to an unscripted routine Zdogg did last year:

Z: Thomas is getting autistic as we speak, because he is full of mercury right now.

T: I can do math now. It’s awesome.

Z: That’s right. He’s gonna go gamble on the strip and clean house.

In the videos, they also talk a lot about how the flu shot is a scam by the government to control our thoughts…

Are they making fun of autistic kids or adults?

“It was a dumb joke, probably in poor taste, but it didn’t occur to me at the time because it was a live show and we were trying to be funny.”

ZDogg

It wasn’t funny and I’m glad he took down the video, even if it was under pressure from hospital administration and not because he really wanted to.

Joking about vaccines causing autism is offensive and no one should be doing it, even if it is call out and making fun of the folks in the anti-vaccine movement who try and associate vaccines with autism and do actually hurt autistic families.

But did he mock the father of a child who died of SUDC, within a day of getting vaccinated? A father who was carrying a copy of JB Handley’s autism book, who claims that “there is no money in dead babies,” and who is banging on the studio window during his interview with Paul Offit?

No.

He is simply pointing out, and seemed a little excited, that he had anti-vaccine protesters at his studio for the first time.

At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged. And everyone laughed.
At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged. And everyone laughed.

But if anti-vaccine folks really feel outrage over this, why is it so selective?

Where is the outrage when the comments don’t come from someone who supports vaccines?

“I want to thank the warrior moms and dads. Those of you who have an autistic child, or a child who is otherwise damaged, you know the damage isn’t always clear-cut autism. Some times it is just some variation – your kids just not quite right.

That’s why I didn’t stand and say that I have an autistic child, because my kids, I tease them and say that they are brain damaged. Uh. Sorry son.”

Paul Thomas

I don’t remember any outrage over Paul Thomas’ comments or when Del Bigtree said “Eve is autistic, that’s right, otherwise, why would she have eaten the apple,” and made this statement on his show:

“When I go visit my grandma, why don’t I see any autistic people flapping in the corner of the room.”

Apparently, the idea of autistic adults doesn’t fit into their narrative that vaccines are associated with autism.

But that isn’t even the worse thing Del has been recorded as saying…

“But I would think when you have a child with autism, you know, or on the spectrum, you have no reference point. You have no…

I don’t want this to sound wrong, but it’s a little bit more like having a dog or a Doberman or something that you don’t understand how it thinks, you don’t know. I mean, I mean a better figure than animal reference except… you don’t have their brain.

Or you hear about stories of people that bring home of exotic you know of chimpanzee or something where they can’t, and this is not sounding right.”

At least he didn’t want it to sound wrong…

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

The anti-vaccine world is full of talk of autistic kids being broken and damaged, they push dangerous and expensive “cures” on parents, and spread propaganda to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Dr. Jerry is a pediatrician who practices Translational Medicine and wrote the forward to Jenny McCarthy's autism book.
Dr. Jerry is a pediatrician who practices Translational Medicine and wrote the forward to Jenny McCarthy’s autism book.

And they hijack every disease, story, and tragedy to make folks think that everything is a vaccine injury.

As a physician, I assure you this story isn’t believable at any level. In my opinion, the “health officials” are conjuring meningitis fairy tales about an “unvaccinated” boogeyman to cover for the much more probable cause of this child’s death: VACCINES.

The much more likely cause is right in front of us: “The child had just received his 4-month-old vaccinations two days beforehand.”

Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan, for example, is so upset that he thinks Zdogg should lose his medical license, but he had no problem harassing the family of an infant who had just died of meningitis, claiming it was a cover up for a vaccine injury.

This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.
This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Have I mentioned that some of them lie about religious and medical exemptions to avoid getting their kids vaccinated and protected? And others sell those vaccine exemptions?

“A Clallam County woman in her 20s died this year from an undetected measles infection discovered only after an autopsy, state health officials said Thursday. The case is the first confirmed measles death in the U.S. in 12 years.

The woman was likely exposed to the highly contagious infection at a local medical center during a recent outbreak in Clallam County. She was at the site at the same time as someone who later developed a rash and was determined to be contagious for measles.”

Undetected measles led to death of Clallam County woman in her 20s

Where is the outrage when someone dies from a disease that could have easily been prevented by a safe and effective vaccine?

Those of us who understand the hypocrisy of the anti-vaccine movement know exactly where it is.

More on The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Vaccine Injuries vs Coincidences

Believe it or not, some folks don’t think that coincidences are real.

Not believing in coincidences is a well known trope of the anti-vaccine movement.
Not believing in coincidences is a well known trope of the anti-vaccine movement.

Is it a coincidence that these folks are the ones who are the most likely to believe that vaccines cause a lot of injuries and vaccine induced diseases?

Vaccine Injuries vs Coincidences

Thinking about vaccine side effects and coincidences is not new.

“When I undertook the study with the current vaccine strain on my own two triple-negative children and their three playmates, also triple- negatives, I thought: “I am going to do this very carefully now,” and, like Dr. Gear, I set up certain time schedules. I said: “I am going to start to give the vaccine now.” Every time I said “I am going to start to give it” and did not give it, two to three or four days later they came down with either pharyngitis, vomiting and abdominal pain, or a little fever.

I waited for approximately six weeks for those children to stop having some sort of febrile episode. I finally gave up. It so happened that after they got the vaccine they did not have any such episode.”

Albert Sabin on Recent Studies And Field Tests With A Live Attenuated Poliovirus Vaccine

When Albert Sabin was first researching his oral polio vaccine, he understood the problem. How could he really know if any signs or symptoms that occurred after he gave someone his vaccine were really caused by the vaccine, or just a coincidence?

“However, a report later to be given by Dr. Smorodintsev will deal with approximately 7,500 children who had received the vaccine and were carefully followed, as compared with another group, in similar number, who had not, for various types of illnesses which were occurring during the period.”

Albert Sabin on Recent Studies And Field Tests With A Live Attenuated Poliovirus Vaccine

The solution? They studied kids who had not gotten his vaccine.

But you don’t need an unvaccinated group to uncover coincidences.

You can just look at the background rate of a symptom or condition, and compare the periods before and after you start using a vaccine.

For instance, consider this study from Australia about using the HPV vaccine in boys, in which they made some predictions of what would happen after introducing the HPV vaccine.

Assuming an 80% vaccination rate with three doses per person — which equates to about 480 000 boys vaccinated and a total of 1 440 000 doses administered nationally per year in the first 2 years of the program — about 2.4 episodes of Guillain-Barré syndrome would be expected to occur within 6 weeks of vaccination. In addition, about 3.9 seizures and 6.5 acute allergy presentations would be expected to occur within 1 day of vaccination, including 0.3 episodes of anaphylaxis.

Clothier et al. on Human papillomavirus vaccine in boys: background rates of potential adverse events.

Wait. Are they saying that the HPV vaccine is going to cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, seizures, allergic reactions, and anaplylaxis?

Of course not. When the study was done, the kids hadn’t gotten any vaccines yet!

That was the background rate of those conditions.

They happened before the vaccine was given, and you can expect them to continue to happen after these kids start getting vaccinated – at that same rate.

What if they start happening more often after kids get vaccinated?

Then it makes it less likely to be a coincidence and more likely that the vaccine is actually causing an increase in the background rate. And vaccine safety studies look for that, which is how we know that vaccines don’t cause SIDS, transverse myelitis, multiple sclerosis, and many other conditions.

Most of you will have heard the maxim “correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two variables have a statistical relationship with each other does not mean that one is responsible for the other. For instance, ice cream sales and forest fires are correlated because both occur more often in the summer heat. But there is no causation; you don’t light a patch of the Montana brush on fire when you buy a pint of Haagan-Dazs.

Nate Silver on The Signal and the Noise

Of course, when we are talking about coincidences, we are also talking about correlation and causation.

When correlation doesn’t equal causation, then it’s probably a coincidence. Or it’s at least caused by some other factor.

And coincidences happen all of the time.

Is It a Vaccine Injury or a Coincidence?

That something could be a coincidence is not typically want parents want to hear though, especially if their child has gotten sick.

What does it mean that something happens coincidentally?

“Most sudden cardiac deaths that remain unexplained after necropsy are probably caused by primary cardiac arrhythmias.”

Sudden death in children and adolescents

Often it just means that it is unexplained. And that it is chance alone that it occurred as the same time as something else.

“In the absence of a specific etiology for ASDs, and a tendency among parents of children with a disability to feel a strong sense of guilt, it is not surprising that parents attempt to form their own explanations for the disorder in order to cope with the diagnosis.”

Mercer et al on Parental perspectives on the causes of an autism spectrum disorder in their children

Again, when folks blame vaccines, it is often because they have nothing else to blame.

“In some fraction of the American population, however, the belief in a link remains. One reason is a coincidence of timing: children are routinely vaccinated just as parents begin to observe signs of autism. Most vaccines are administered during the first years of life, which is also a period of rapid developmental changes. Many developmental conditions, including autism, don’t become apparent until a child misses a milestone or loses an early skill, a change that in some cases can’t help but be coincident with a recent vaccination.”

Emily Willingham on The Autism-Vaccine Myth

Think that it is too big of a coincidence that some infants develop spasms shortly after their four month vaccines?

Dr. William James West first described these types of infantile spasms in the 1840s!

And the “Fifth Day Fits,” seizures that began when a newborn was five days old, was described in the 1970s, well before we began giving newborns the hepatitis B vaccine.

But SIDS was only discovered after we began vaccinating kids, right?

“But, with millions upon millions of doses given each year to infants in the first 6 months of life across industrialized countries and with sudden infant death syndrome being the most common cause of infant death among infants 1 month or older, the coincidence of SIDS following DTP vaccination just by chance will be relatively frequent. When the two events occur, with SIDS following vaccination, well-meaning and intelligent people will blame the vaccine. They seek order out of randomly occurring events.”

Jacobson et al. on A taxonomy of reasoning flaws in the anti-vaccine movement

Of course not.

Cases of SIDS have been described throughout recorded history and have been well studied to prove that they are not associated with vaccines.

“Some events after immunisation are clearly caused by the vaccine (for example, a sore arm at the injection site). However, others may happen by coincidence around the time of vaccination. It can therefore be difficult to separate those which are clearly caused by a vaccine and those that were going to happen anyway… Scientific method is then used to determine if these events are a coincidence or a result of the vaccine.

Vaccine side effects and adverse reactions

It is easy to blame a vaccine when something happens and a child was recently vaccinated. That is especially true now that anti-vaccine folks turn every story of a child’s death or disability into a vaccine injury story.

“Autism was known well before MMR vaccine became available.”

Chen et al. on Vaccine adverse events: causal or coincidental?

Blaming vaccines when it is clear that vaccines aren’t the cause doesn’t help anyone though. It scares other parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. And it doesn’t help parents who need support caring for a sick child or help coping with the loss of a child.

What to Know About Vaccine Injuries vs Coincidences

While all possible adverse events after getting a vaccine should be reported to VAERS and your pediatrician, remember that just because something happened after getting vaccinated, it doesn’t mean that it was caused by the vaccine.

More on Vaccine Injuries vs Coincidences

Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children

Can a child be fine one day and then die the next?

Tragically, they can.

There is even a name for it – sudden unexplained death in childhood.

Sudden Death in Children

Although 10% of deaths in children over age 12 months are classified as sudden death, most have explanations, such as asthma, epilepsy, or a heart problem (congenital malformations and arrhythmias). Unfortunately, some of these conditions, especially some infections and heart problems, aren’t discovered until after the child dies.

“Most sudden cardiac deaths that remain unexplained after necropsy are probably caused by primary cardiac arrhythmias.”

Sudden death in children and adolescents

About 16% of these sudden deaths don’t have any explanation though.

Surprisingly, these types of sudden, unexplained deaths are the 5th leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years. That adds up to about 400 deaths a year in the United States alone!

Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children

Have you guessed the connection with vaccines?

If up to 16% of children who die suddenly don’t have a good explanation for why they died, then that leaves some to blame vaccines, often with a little help with myths and misinformation from anti-vaccine folks.

“…making general assumptions and drawing conclusions about vaccinations causing deaths based on spontaneous reports to VAERS – some of which might be anecdotal or second-hand – or from case reports in the media, is not a scientifically valid practice.”

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

That’s despite the fact that both our safety monitoring systems and other studies have shown that vaccines are not associated with sudden unexplained deaths. In fact, deaths after vaccines are very rare.

“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

Studies have even shown a protective effect of getting vaccinated against SIDS.

“At the present time there is not enough known about the underlying mechanisms of death in SUDC to allow prediction of which children might die suddenly and unexpectedly. Additionally, there is no way to prevent SUDC since its cause is unknown. Through research, we strive to discover the risk factors and underlying causes of SUDC that will lead to its prevention. In the meantime, optimal pediatric care recommendations, including attending well child visits, maintaining current vaccinations, and obtaining appropriate health care when clinically indicated, should be followed.”

SUDC Foundation on Frequently Asked Questions

And it’s not just SIDS. We also see a “healthy vaccinee effect” in older kids, who have lower mortality rates than the general population, which includes some folks who aren’t vaccinated.

We don’t know what causes sudden unexplained death in children, although with continued research we hopefully soon will, and can then learn to prevent them. Until then, parents should feel confident that it is not caused by the vaccines, which are safe and necessary and work to protect them from many life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

What to Know About Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children

Vaccines are not associated with sudden unexplained death in children.

More on Vaccines and Sudden Unexplained Death in Children