Anti-vaccine folks are heavily pushing the idea that José Peralta, a New York State Senator, died as the result of getting a flu shot.
While Senator Peralta did die several days after getting a flu shot, it appears that he had already been sick for several weeks. And no, that doesn’t mean that the flu shot made him even sicker.
“The senator would be disappointed to find that conspiracy theorists are using his death to forward their agenda by misrepresenting the facts.”
Chris Sosa on No Evidence New York Legislator Died from Flu Shot
New York State Sen. José Peralta had reportedly just gotten his flu shot at a public event, where he was encouraging others in his community to get protected with free flu shots.
And while he did die about four days later, there is absolutely no reason to think that his getting a flu shot was connected to his death.
Of course, this is the method of operation of the modern anti-vaccine movement. They make folks think that anything and everything is a vaccine injury and they actually go out of their way to exploit people who have died.
There is no evidence that New York State Senator Jose Peralta died from getting a flu shot.
Unlike most of the other anti-vaccine experts who are practicing way out of their field of expertise when they talk about vaccines, Ashley Everly is a toxicologist, so is actually an expert on vaccines, right?
“Most toxicologists begin by working at the bench, conducting experiments on in vitro and animal models. Over time, as they gain experience, they may move up to supervise others. While a master’s degree is sufficient for applied research positions, a Ph.D. degree with postdoctoral experience is required for the highest levels.”
Ashley Everly does not have a master’s degree and has not published any research about vaccines. Her opinions are not those of a toxicologist, but of a mother who thinks that her child was injured by vaccines.
Her Facebook copypasta post, while posted as a toxicologist, should remind you of just one very important fact. The great majority of working toxicologists do not share her opinions about vaccines.
“Vaccines are among the most efficacious and cost-effective prevention tools… Parents of children with non-medical exemptions to immunization requirements have been documented to have perceptions of lower susceptibility to and severity of vaccine preventable diseases and perceptions of lower safety and efficacy of vaccines compared to parents of vaccinated children. Moreover, compared to parents of vaccinated children, vaccine hesitant parents had less trust in the government and the health care system.”
Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC) Epidemiology of Vaccine Refusal webinar
What is the Scientific Liaison Coalition (SLC)?
It is a group of eight toxicology organizations that “increase awareness of toxicology and related sciences on human health,” including the:
American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT)
American College of Toxicology (ACT)
Environmental Mutagenesis and Genomics Society (EMGS)
“Recent research has confirmed that the ethylmercury component found in Thimerosal is less hazardous than methylmercury. These are different compounds and should not be considered as equivalent neurotoxins. Experimental conditions can be created that result in neurological cell dysfunction. However, current literature supports the contention that childhood vaccinations do not deliver a sufficient dose to produce these neurological injuries.
American College of Medical Toxicology on the IOM Report on Thimerosal and Autism
Neither does the American College of Medical Toxicology.
Fever, pain at the injection site, and redness and swelling where the shot was given are all common, mild problems that can be associated with almost any vaccine.
Some vaccines might also commonly cause fussiness, tiredness or poor appetite, and vomiting within 1 to 3 days of getting the vaccine. Others can cause a rash, headache, or muscle and joint pain for a few days.
Even syncope or fainting can commonly occur within 15 minutes of teens getting a vaccine.
Other vaccine side effects can include persistent crying, nodules at the injection site, limb swelling, and febrile seizures, etc.
These are well known vaccine side effects that are often minor and temporary though.
Is It a Vaccine Injury?
Although the term is typically associated with the anti-vaccine movement, as they tend to think everything is a vaccine injury, it is important to understand that vaccine injuries, although rare, are indeed real.
Dr. Samuel Johnson once said that “It is incident to physicians, I am afraid, beyond all other men, to mistake subsequence for consequence.”
How does this apply to diagnosing vaccine injuries?
Too often we forget that just because one event is subsequent (happens after) another, it does not mean that it was a consequence (was caused by) the first event. It is another way of saying that correlation does not imply causation.
This is also highlighted by missed vaccine stories, events that would surely be blamed on a vaccine injury, except that a vaccine was never actually given for one reason or another.
Most pediatricians have these types of missed vaccine stories, such as:
an infant who begins vomiting on the way home from a well appointment and is diagnosed with intussusception (9 month old visit and didn’t get any vaccines)
a 4 year old who developed encephalitis just one week after his well check up (no vaccines – DTP had been deferred to his 5 year old visit)
a 2 month old who died of SIDS on the night of his scheduled well child visit (no vaccines as they had forgotten to go to the appointment)
a 4 month old who had a seizure at his well child visit (no vaccines were given yet as they were still being drawn up)
Or they have kids who begin to have symptoms or are diagnosed with a condition right around the time of a check up when they would routinely get one or more vaccines, but haven’t yet. From diabetes and POTS to transverse myelitis, some parents would have blamed their child’s vaccines if they had actually been vaccinated at that time and subsequently got diagnosed.
My own son started getting migraines when he was 12 years old and about to start 7th grade. Should I blame his headaches on his middle school booster shots? While it would be convenient, it is more likely that genetics are to blame. I started getting migraines at about the same age, and he began getting them just before he got his booster shots.
Diagnosing Vaccine Injuries
How do you know if your child had a true vaccine injury?
Does the reaction fit into the vaccine injury type AND “time period for first symptom or manifestation of onset or of significant aggravation after vaccine administration” as described in the NVICP vaccine injury tables?
That time period, also known as a risk interval, is when “individuals are considered at risk for the development of a certain adverse event following immunization (AEFI) potentially caused by the vaccine.”
For example, did your child develop an anaphylactic reaction within four hours of getting the DTaP vaccine? While a reaction 14 hours after the vaccine would be much less likely to be caused by the vaccine, if it occurred within 4 hours, that could certainly be a vaccine injury.
How about a child who developed thrombocytopenic purpura 90 days after getting his MMR vaccine? That is unlikely to be a vaccine injury, as the MMR vaccine typically causes TTP within 7 to 30 days.
If you think that your child has had a vaccine injury, be sure to talk to your pediatrician. You should also report any vaccine reaction to Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and if you truly believe that your child has been injured by a vaccine, you can file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
“You may file a claim if you received a vaccine covered by the VICP and believe that you have been injured by this vaccine.”
What You Need to Know About the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
How will your pediatrician figure out if it is a vaccine injury? Among the things that they will consider when evaluating a reaction after a vaccine will be the answers to some key questions, including:
Is there any evidence that something else caused the reaction? While getting a vaccine could cause an anaphylactic reaction, so could the fact that your child just eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Is there a laboratory test that implicates the vaccine as a cause of the reaction?
If the reaction is an infection, did it have a vaccine or wild type origin?
Your pediatrician will also consider other factors when making a decision, including whether other patients were affected (might implicate a contaminated vaccine), and will make sure that the original diagnosis is correct.
Being able to answer all of these questions often puts pediatricians in the unique position of correctly evaluating potential vaccine injuries. There is even a standardized algorithm that can help your pediatrician collect and interpret all of the data they will get when evaluating a possible vaccine injury.
Another algorithm can help evaluate and manage suspected allergic reactions, including immediate or type 1 hypersensitivity reactions and delayed type 3 hypersensitivity reactions. If the reaction is consistent with an allergic reaction and additional doses of the vaccine are still needed, possible next steps in this algorithm include serologic testing for immunity and skin testing with the vaccine or vaccine components.
For extra help, your pediatrician can consult an allergist or immunologist before considering giving your child another vaccine, if necessary. Experts at the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) are also available for consults about suspected vaccine injuries.
Over-Diagnosing Vaccine Injuries
In addition to vaccine side effects and vaccine injuries, it is much more common for children and adults to develop health problems and symptoms after getting a vaccine that have nothing to do with the vaccine. These are events, sometimes tragic, that would have happened even if they had not been vaccinated.
Despite the evidence against it, some parents may still think that their child has been injured or damaged by a vaccine, especially if they:
For example, studies have repeatedly shown that “vaccination does not increase the overall risk of sudden infant death (SIDS),” and that “the risk of SIDS in vaccinated cases and controls is neither increased nor reduced during the early post-vaccination period.”
So a VAERS report of SIDS on the night that an infant received his 4 month vaccines, while tragic, would likely not end up being classified as a true vaccine injury.
Neither should a case report or package insert about SIDS influence your thinking about SIDS being associated with a vaccine injury.
Still, it is easy to understand why many like to blame vaccines.
Vaccines are an easy target, especially as most vaccine-preventable diseases are under fairly good control compared to the pre-vaccine era. And in some cases of SIDS, a new case of diabetes, or the sudden death of an older child, etc., it may happen soon after the child was vaccinated, and that correlation is hard to ignore for some folks.
At least it is hard to ignore and easy to be influenced by anti-vaccine folks if you don’t understand the background rate of these diseases – or the fact that a certain number of children will be affected no matter what, and because many kids get vaccinated, it is only a matter of chance that the two get correlated together.
They can prevent you from getting a life-threatening disease, sometimes even after you have been exposed. And if you do get sick when vaccinated, the vaccine can often help to make sure the disease isn’t as severe as it might have been if you were unvaccinated. They can also keep you from getting sick and exposing others, including those who are at extra risk for severe disease.
Vaccines also get blamed for doing a lot of other things, namely for causing vaccine injuries.
Strabismus isn’t a disease. It is simply a term that describes a misalignment of your child’s eyes.
“At birth, an infant’s eyes cannot always focus directly on objects. They may appear to move quite independently at first, sometimes crossing, and sometimes wandering outward. But by the age of three to four months, an infant’s eyes should have the ability to focus on small objects and the eyes should be straight or parallel. A six-month-old infant should be able to focus on both distant and near objects.”
Prevent Blindness America on Is Strabismus Present at Birth?
To be more specific, children with strabismus can have:
esotropia – the eye turns inward
exotropia – the eye turns outward
hyertropia – the eye turns upward
hypotropia – the eye turns downward
And we get especially concerned when strabismus leads to amblyopia – decreased vision in the affected eye.
Some specific things that cause strabismus include:
third nerve (III) palsy
fourth nerve (IV) palsy – superior oblique muscle
sixth nerve (VI) palsy – lateral rectus muscle
Often, we don’t know why kids have strabismus, although it is thought that at least 50% of them are born with it, even if it isn’t recognized until they are older.
“Most strabismus is the result of an abnormality of the neuromuscular (including brain) control of eye movement. Our understanding of these control centers in the brain remains incomplete. Less commonly, a problem with the actual eye muscle may cause strabismus.”
AAPOS on What causes strabismus?
Kids with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, hydrocephalus, and brain tumors are thought to be at higher risk for developing strabismus.
Do Vaccines Cause Strabismus?
And because we don’t always know what causes strabismus, that leads some folks to want to blame vaccines.
Interestingly, one study, Prevalence of Amblyopia and Strabismus in White and African-American Children Aged 6 through 71 Months: The Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study, found that strabismus was rare in infants and that while higher in older kids, “there was no clear trend for increasing or decreasing prevalence after age 12 months.”
If strabismus was caused by vaccines, wouldn’t you expect to see more infants with strabismus and a consistent rise in cases as kids continued to get vaccines until they go to kindergarten?
Do any studies support the idea that vaccines do cause strabismus?
There are a few case reports, but it is important to remember that a case report is basically a gloried anecdote. It is not the kind of high quality evidence you really want if you are trying to make a case trying to prove causality.
The biggest evidence against vaccines causing strabismus?
Strabismus isn’t new.
The first cases were reported over 3500 years ago and the first surgical repairs were being done in the early 19th Century.
PANDAS, first described in 1998, is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
Kids with PANDAS can have tics and/or OCD that come on suddenly or get worse after they get a strep infection. Specifically, a group A streptococcal infection, like strep throat.
These kids might also be moody and irritable, develop problems at school, have trouble sleeping, and have anxiety, including separation anxiety.
What Causes PANDAS?
Like other post-strep complications, PANDAS is thought to be an auto-immune disorder that occurs when a child’s immune system targets the strep bacteria, but also cross-reacts with molecules that strep uses to hide in our body.
“However, the molecules on the strep bacteria are eventually recognized as foreign to the body and the child’s immune system reacts to them by producing antibodies. Because of the molecular mimicry by the bacteria, the immune system reacts not only to the strep molecules, but also to the human host molecules that were mimicked; antibodies system “attack” the mimicked molecules in the child’s own tissues.”
PANDAS—Questions and Answers
If antibodies to mimicked molecules target a child’s brain tissue, then you can get the neuropsychiatric symptoms of PANDAS, including tics and OCD.
Does it sound a little unbelievable?
Do you know what causes rheumatic fever, besides an untreated group A streptococcal infection? It is an auto-immune disorder that occurs when the antibodies that are produced after a strep infection attack your joints and heart, including the valves of your heart.
Similarly, if the antibodies attack your kidney, you can develop post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Do Vaccines Cause PANDAS?
PANDAS is caused by a strep infection.
Vaccines do not cause strep infections and vaccines do not cause PANDAS.
Responding to a petition to add PANDAS and similar conditions as a vaccine table injury, the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines voted 5 to 1 against, stating that:
No published study that examines anti‐neuronal antibodies including anti‐dopamine receptor 1 (DR1), anti‐dopamine receptor 2 (DR2), anti‐tubulin, anti‐lysoganglioside – GM1 or antibody‐mediated activation of calcium calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in children suspected of PANS and/or PITAND following pertussis infection or following pertussis immunization was found.
No published case report of conjugate pneumococcal vaccines or pneumococcal infections and Hib vaccines or Hib infections causing or enabling the development of acute neuropsychiatric symptoms via a mechanism of blood‐brain barrier disruption with GAS antibody‐mediated CNS cross‐reaction in a susceptible child were found.
No published case report of PANS, PITAND and/or PANDAS following pertussis vaccination or during or following pertussis infection were found.
No published case report of PANS, PITAND and/or PANDAS following either pneumococcal conjugate or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccination or pneumococcal or Haemophilus influenzae type b infection were found.
There is no evidence that vaccines cause PANDAS.
“Children with PANS and PANDAS should receive standard childhood vaccines, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016a). The patient and all family members should receive annual influenza immunization as described under Influenza (described earlier).”
Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part III—Treatment and Prevention of Infections
What about PANS and PITANDS?
These are similar, although much more controversial than PANDAS.
What’s the difference?
With PANDAS, the trigger is a strep infection. What about if you have symptoms of PANDAS, but no evidence of a strep infection?
Then some folks stick with the diagnosis and simply label you as having PANS or PITANDS, blaming some other infection, even though there is little evidence that these are a real thing.
Yes, the BMJ, formally the British Medical Journal, just published a piece, Are injections part of the “mystery” of acute flaccid myelitis/AFM? Is the CDC interested in finding out?
Those familiar with the BMJ understand that this is not a real editorial or article though.
It is one of their Rapid responses to another article – basically a letter to the editor. Unfortunately, some folks use these Rapid responses as evidence for their anti-vaccine talking points and arguments.
The BMJ Asks If Injections Are Part of the “Mystery” of Acute Flaccid Myelitis/AFM…
The AFM patient summary form asks for a vaccination record and current studies have found no association with recent vaccines.
“They also say that they are continuing to investigate the possibility of an association, but the AFM Patient Summary Forms that they supply to US state health departments contain no questions about injections or vaccinations.”
Allan S. Cunningham on Are injections part of the “mystery” of acute flaccid myelitis/AFM? Is the CDC interested in finding out?
“According to patients’ vaccination records, all but one had been vaccinated according to Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations. The median interval between receipt of the last vaccination and onset of neurologic symptoms was 1.9 years (range = approximately 2 months–7 years).”
Acute Flaccid Myelitis Among Children — Washington, September–November 2016
He is simply pointing out, and seemed a little excited, that he had anti-vaccine protesters at his studio for the first time.
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.”
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.”
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.
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, 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.
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