Tag: vaccine injury stories

Side Effects and Adverse Events Following Immunizations

Vaccines are safe, but they do have some side effects, mostly mild, and they rarely cause some serious and severe adverse reactions.

Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.
Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.

To help keep our vaccines safe, it is important that all “clinically important adverse events that occur after vaccination of adults and children” be reported to VAERS, not just the ones that are known to be side effects.

Wait.

Isn’t an adverse event the same as a side effect?

Adverse Events Following Immunizations

To better understand that, let’s first look at how we define an adverse event following immunization (AEFI):

“An Adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The adverse event may be any unfavourable or unintended sign, abnormal laboratory finding, symptom or disease.”

Classification of AEFIs

So it should be clear that not all adverse events are actually caused by vaccines.

Many are coincidental events that simply occur after a vaccine is given.

What’s the Difference Between Side Effects and Adverse Events Following Immunizations?

Others are true vaccine reactions though, including fever, pain, fainting, and allergic reactions, etc.

“A side effect is any health problem shown by studies to be caused by a vaccine. Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. Usually vaccine side effects are minor (for example, a sore arm where a shot was given or a low-grade fever after a vaccine) and go away on their own within a few days.”

Understanding Side Effects and Adverse Events

These are the reactions that we call side effects or adverse reactions of the vaccine.

Still, just because a sign or symptom can be a side effect of a vaccine doesn’t mean that it always will be.

“A vaccine reaction is an individual’s response to the inherent properties of the vaccine, even when the vaccine has been prepared, handled and administered correctly.”

Vaccine reactions – WHO Vaccine Safety Basics

Here are some other definitions:

  • adverse event – Medical occurrence temporally associated with the use of a medicinal product, but not necessarily causally related.
  • adverse reaction/side effect – A response to a drug which is noxious and unintended, and which occurs at doses normally used in man for the prophylaxis, diagnosis, or therapy of disease, or for the modifications of physiological function.
  • unexpected adverse reaction – Not consistent with applicable product information or characteristics of drug.
  • severe adverse event or reaction – are rarely life-threatening and usually do not result in long-term problems
  • serious adverse event or reaction – Any untoward medical occurrence that at any dose is life-threatening, results in death, requires inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, or results in persistent of significant disability or incapacity

Does understanding those definitions make it easier to see why you should be skeptical when folks try to scare you with VAERS reports and data from package inserts?

“Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”

Guide to Interpreting VAERS Data

They both can include reports about adverse events, not just side effects. So they both include events that can very well be coincidental, and not caused by a vaccine.

So when doing your research about vaccines, focus on real side effects, or things that are known to be caused by vaccines. You will find that most vaccine side effects are mild and that more serious or severe side effects are very rare.

More on Side Effects and Adverse Events

Decoding Anti-Vaccine Protests

Yes, even in this age of recordbreaking measles cases, there are some anti-vaccine folks protesting because they want to keep their kids unvaccinated and unprotected.

Decoding Anti-Vaccine Protests

What reasons do they have to intentionally not vaccinate their kids?

Who's protecting us from the people protesting against vaccines?
Who’s protecting us from the people protesting against vaccines?

As many reasons as there are anti-vaccine talking points…

What is truly disturbing though, is that today’s anti-vaccine protestors are co-opting many symbols, language, and slogans and using them to get attention.

Del Bigtree wasn't the only one to wear a yellow star during anti-vaccine protests.
Del Bigtree wasn’t the only one to wear a yellow star during anti-vaccine protests.

Remember when anti-vaccine folks had to be called out for using Holocaust imagery to protest against vaccines.

How Did These Become Anti-Vaccine Slogans?

That’s not all they are doing though.

Did you know that they are also using:

If you do not consent, you won't get vaccinated and protected.
  • Me Too – a movement to support survivors and end sexual violence, anti-vaccine folks use it to when they talk about vaccine injuries.
  • I do not consent – typically about limiting searches when police don’t have a warrant, the anti-vaccine movement abuses it for something that they do have to consent for – getting vaccinated! If you do not consent, you won’t get vaccinated and protected.
  • Informed consent – again, this is something anti-vaccine folks abuse, as their decisions are being influenced by myths and misinformation, so it is not informed consent. It’s more like misinformed consent.

And then there are the anti-vaxxers who use “choice” as their argument.

If you weren't aware, this post makes it obvious where the choice argument comes from. No, it's not AoA, but from the pro-choice movement.
If you weren’t aware, this post makes it obvious where the choice argument comes from. No, it’s not AoA, but from the pro-choice movement.

Anti-vaxxers are only pro-choice for not vaccinating their kids though. They don’t care if we have a choice about wanting to be protected from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dog Whistles for Refusing Vaccines

What’s the big problem with choice as an argument for anti-vaccine folks?

Parents already have a choice to leave their kids unvaccinated and at risk for measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

They already have choices!

No one is forcing them to vaccinate their kids.

Of course, what they want is more choices. They want the option to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to daycare and school, where they would pose a risk to others. They want to limit our choices for decreasing the risks of keeping our kids safe from vaccine-preventable diseases.

How? Their intentionally unvaccinated kids are at greater risk to get measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, which they can then spread to others.

What does all of this really mean?

Just realize that all of these slogans are being co-opted and are being used as dog whistles for the anti-vaccine movement, diluting their original meaning.

More on Decoding Anti-Vaccine Protests

Why Should Medical Exemptions Be Based on CDC Contraindications?

Getting a medical exemption for vaccines isn’t controversial.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Why Should Medical Exemptions Be Based on CDC Contraindications?

As many people know though, some people have been taking advantage of the fact that medical exemptions weren’t clearly defined in California’s vaccine law.

Who are the doctors handing out fake medical exemptions in California?
Who are the doctors handing out fake medical exemptions in California?

Are there just a few doctors taking advantage of the California law?

“But at 105 schools in the state, 10% or more of kindergartners had a medical exemption in the school year that ended last month, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state data.”

Pushback against immunization laws leaves some California schools vulnerable to outbreaks

Is 10% a lot?

In one recent report, Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines, Exemption Rates, and Provisional Enrollment Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2016–17 School Year, the median rate of medical exemptions in the US was just 0.2%, with a range of <0.1 to 1.5%.

In West Virginia and Mississippi, states that don’t allow non-medical exemptions and where criteria for medical exemptions are fairly strict, the rates were 0.1 and 0.3% respectively.

And that’s about what you would expect, as there are very few true contraindications or precautions to getting vaccinated.

So yes, 10% is an awful lot and that’s a good sign that it is more than just a few doctors taking advantage of the law.

“If a child has a medical exemption to immunization, a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State must certify that the immunization is detrimental to the child’s health. The medical exemption should specify which immunization is detrimental to the child’s health, provide information as to why the immunization is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the immunization is medically contraindicated, if known.”

Dear Colleague letter regarding guidelines for use of immunization exemptions

Why do most other states have so few medical exemptions?

Mostly because there are very few true medical reasons to skip or delay a child’s vaccines!

They include, but aren’t limited to, the contraindications and precautions listed in the package insert for each vaccine (the contraindications and warnings sections…) and by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

They don’t include many other things that are “incorrectly perceived as contraindications to vaccination,” such as things in the family medical history of the child, eczema (unless they are getting the smallpox vaccine), colic, sleep apnea, or being a picky eater.

Is everything a vaccine injury?
Is everything a vaccine injury?

It should be obvious.

Medical exemptions for vaccines should be based on CDC criteria because some folks think that everything is a vaccine injury.

More on Medical Exemptions

Is Ocular Palsy a Vaccine Injury?

Now why would anyone think that an ocular palsy could be caused by vaccines?

There is no real evidence that a cranial nerve six palsy, which causes strabismus or esotropia, is a common vaccine injury, even though Dr. Bob focused on it recently.

Is Ocular Palsy a Vaccine Injury?

What is Dr. Bob’s evidence?

A vaccine injury story from a vaccine hesitant mom who was giving her child one vaccine at a time and who became cross-eyed five days after getting the MMR vaccine.

“It is an absolutely, 100% well known vaccine reaction to live virus vaccines as you eventually discovered, it’s called ocular palsy.”

Bob Sears

Is that true?

Not exactly.

It is true that there are a handful of case reports of toddlers developing a cranial nerve six palsy after a live virus vaccine, but that doesn’t make it an “absolutely, 100% well-known vaccine reaction.”

Why not?

The story Dr. Bob tells could be published as a case report. But that wouldn’t be proof that it was caused by the MMR vaccine, as other causes weren’t ruled out, and it is easy to overlook that the child had just had a double ear infection.

“Benign isolated 6th nerve palsy of childhood is rare, and recurrences are rarer. By definition, it is not due to a threatening cause, such as an underlying intracranial lesion, and recovery is expected. This condition typically occurs following viral illnesses, infections, and immunization involving attenuated live vaccinations. In general, prognosis for benign recurrent 6th nerve palsy is excellent, and majority of patients recover full muscle function.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

Could the child that Dr. Bob talks about have had a viral infection causing their sixth nerve palsy?

Sure. The child even had a double ear infection the previous month.

Considering that in most of the case reports, the children developed symptoms later, between 7 or 21 days to as late as 6 weeks to 6 months after their vaccine, then the previous ear infection starts to look like a more likely cause, not the MMR vaccine.

“A previously healthy four-year-old girl was presented to our emergency room with complaints of binocular horizontal diplopia of sudden onset and strabismus.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

What’s different about the four-year-old girl discussed above and the child Dr. Bob talks about?

“One week prior to the event, the child had a history of fever and productive cough, and she was under treatment with amoxicillin. There was no history of live attenuated vaccine administration in the previous days.”

Gonçalves et al on Benign Recurrent Sixth Nerve Palsy in a Child

This child wasn’t recently vaccinated.

There are also case reports of children developing recurrent 6th nerve palsy without any obvious trigger – no immunization and no recent infection.

And cases from the 1950s and 60s and earlier, before we had an MMR vaccine.

“This syndrome is not a new entity, and experienced clinicians recall cases in which the combination of only fever and VI nerve palsy cautioned them against other diagnostic measures. Sir Charles Symonds, in a discussion recorded in the proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, makes reference to his observations of patients in whom VI nerve palsy followed febrile illness and was of no consequence. In the same discussion he also mentions instances in which VI nerve palsy followed otitis media, and yet there was no pain and little constitutional disturbance. The palsy he considered to be the result of an aseptic thrombosis of the inferior petrosal sinus, adjacent to the VI nerve as it passes through Dorello’s canal.”

Knox et al on Benign VI Nerve Palsies in Children

Also consider that if a live attenuated vaccine is causing such a vaccine injury, then wouldn’t you expect kids with natural measles infections to develop these 6th nerve palsies at equal, or more likely, greater rates.

What about those case reports from the 1950s and 60s and earlier? No, those early case reports weren’t about kids with measles.

The bottom line is that if you want to consider this type of ocular palsy a vaccine injury, you should also explore the possibility that it was caused by an infection or by chance. And the only folks who would say 100% that these incidents are a vaccine injury, when there is just as much, if not more, evidence saying they aren’t, are those who think that everything is a vaccine injury

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