Tag: Vaccine Misinformation

What Is Cherry Picking?

Everyone has heard of cherry picking.

If you are talking about vaccines, this probably isn’t that kind of cherry picking though.

What Is Cherry Picking?

Have you ever been to a cherry orchard?

“Pick only the cherries that are fully red (or whatever color they are supposed to be when ripe!). Part the leaves with your hands to look for hidden cherries ready for harvest.”

Cherry Picking Tips and Facts

Cherries don’t continue to ripen off the tree, so you want to pick them at exactly the right time. Not too early and not too late.

So when you go cherry picking, you are looking for the perfect cherries.

That’s what folks do when they go cherry picking for just the right information to fit their beliefs, but ignore any and all other information that might prove them wrong.

“Whatever one might think about Andrew Wakefield, he was just one man: the MMR autism scare has been driven for a decade now by a media that over-emphasises marginal views, misrepresenting and cherry picking research data to suit its cause. As the Observer scandal makes clear, there is no sign that this will stop.”

Ben Goldacre on MMR: the scare stories are back

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most anti-vaccine folks are very good at cherry picking.

A cherry picker isn't going to save you from a bad argument.
D’oh! A cherry picker isn’t going to save you from a bad argument.

Someone is cherry picking when they:

  • uses only one or a few out-of-context quotes that seem to support their argument, but ignores the rest of the article or study that doesn’t
  • talks about the one study that supports their position, but ‘forgets’ to mention the ten that don’t
  • mentions a few years of data that support their argument, but leave out the years that don’t

Need a good example?

Have you ever heard someone say that the package insert for Tripedia vaccine proves a link to autism?

SIDS and autism are listed in Tripedia package insert, but are not causally linked to the vaccine.
SIDS and autism are listed in Tripedia package insert, but are not causally linked to the vaccine.

This is classic cherry picking because they are ignoring all of the other information in the package insert, all of the other package inserts that don’t list autism as an adverse reaction, and all of the other evidence that autism is not associated with vaccines! It is also a bad argument against vaccines because they don’t explain why it is in the package insert.

How can you easily spot when someone is cherry picking?

You have to get educated and do your own research.

What to Know About Cherry Picking

Cherry picking occurs when someone chooses to use just the right information to fit their beliefs, but ignores any and all other information that might prove them wrong.

More on Cherry Picking

Don’t Skip Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shot

Hepatitis B has infected at least 2 billion people in the world, chronically infects more than 350 million people, and kills more than 600,000 people each year.

Fortunately, hepatitis B is now a vaccine-preventable disease.

“Since 1982, a hepatitis B vaccine has been available to prevent hepatitis B virus infection. Today, the vaccine is made using recombinant DNA technology and contains only a portion of the outer protein coat of the virus, called the hepatitis B surface antigen. The vaccine is a very safe and effective immunization against a viral infection that can lead to liver inflammation, cirrhosis and liver cancer. ”

PKIDs on The Importance of the Hepatitis B Vaccine

Although the first hepatitis B vaccines were developed in the early 1980s, it wasn’t until 1991 that it was added to the immunization schedule for all newborns and infants.

This universal program proved to be much more effective than the previous selective program that only vaccinated newborns if they were in certain high risk groups. In fact, acute hepatitis B infections in children and teens have decreased 96 percent since then.

Why Do Babies Still Get Hepatitis B?

Tragically, even with routine use of the hepatitis B vaccine, some babies still get hepatitis B infections.

Why?

Hepatitis B can be prevented.No, it is not because infants and young children are participating in high risk behaviors, like tattooing, body piercing, or IV drug use.

It can happen if a mother has hepatitis B, but doesn’t know it or isn’t managed properly, and her baby misses the preventative doses of HBIG (within 12 hours of birth) and/or first dose of the hepatitis B shot. Or a baby who was exposed to hepatitis B might not complete the three dose hepatitis B vaccine series.

Newborns of mothers with hepatitis B who are highly viremic (they have very high levels of the virus in their blood), which can be detected during viral load testing during the third trimester, might also develop hepatitis B even though they got the proper dosages of HBIG and the hepatitis B vaccine, if they weren’t treated with an oral anti-hepatitis B virus drug, such as lamivudine, telbivudine and tenofovir.

Declining the Birth Dose of the Hepatitis B Shot

If the hepatitis B vaccine is safe and effective and can prevent cancer, why do some parents decline their newborn’s birth dose of this shot?

“Over one third of all people who are infected each year with hep B are in the “no risk” category for infection. I’m one of them, and even a year later, I’m trying to put my horrible experience behind me. No one should ever have to suffer through being infected with this virus — it is totally preventable with a series of three shots. “No risk” living is a meaningless term. If you go to dentist, borrow a toothbrush, get your ears pierced, get a manicure, or engage in countless other mundane activities, you could become infected.”

I Was At No Risk for Ever Having Hepatitis B!

These parents who decline the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine are likely influenced by the misinformation that surrounds much of the anti-vaccine movement, including being made to believe that:

  • they don’t need it because you can be tested for hepatitis B – but when relying on testing, some newborns who needed preventative treatment with HBIG and the hepatitis vaccine get missed and are at risk for developing hepatitis B.
  • it is just an STD vaccine, so they don’t need it because only people who use IV drugs or have promiscuous sex are at risk – except that there are plenty of stories of children and adults getting hepatitis B who weren’t at high risk or didn’t know they were at high risk. And although you won’t get hepatitis B through casual contact, there are cases of people getting infected after sharing a toothbrush or razor, and even after getting bitten. Why would your child share a toothbrush with someone that has hepatitis B? They likely wouldn’t, except that many people with chronic hepatitis B who are contagious don’t have any symptoms, so they might not know to be extra careful.
  • it doesn’t work – the hepatitis B works very well and provides long term protection
  • it is dangerous and can cause autism, multiple sclerosis, and SIDS, etc. – the hepatitis B vaccine doesn’t include any toxic ingredients, has been used since 1982, and has been shown to be safe
  • they don’t need it because hepatitis B is not a serious disease – while many adults with hepatitis B can have asymptomatic infections and completely recover, thousands die each year with acute and chronic hepatitis B. Also, younger children have a very high risk of developing chronic hepatitis B infections, which can lead to chronic liver disease, even cancer. Hepatitis B is a very serious disease.

Of course, these are the typical anti-vaccine talking points they use to help them overstate the risks of a vaccine, while downplaying the risks of a natural infection, to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your children.

Don’t Skip Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shot

The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your baby from this potentially life-threatening disease and there is no good reason to skip it. Just like there is no good reason to skip your baby’s vitamin K shot.

In the United States alone, more than 2 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B, and each year, up to 40,000 become newly infected and thousands die.

“So what I did on my schedule is, I took a more logical look at hepatitis B, and I realized that babies have no risk of catching this disease, so let’s not do the hep B vaccine while a baby’s young and small and more vulnerable.”

Dr. Bob Sears

It’s not logical to encourage parents to delay a vaccine, tell them there is no risk in delaying the vaccine, and not mention any of the potential risks, especially that kids can sometimes get hepatitis B without engaging in high risk behaviors. From a needle-stick injury in the park to getting bit at daycare by an asymptomatic child whose parents don’t even know that they have hepatitis B, you can’t say that there is no risk.

Of the 40,000 newly infected people with hepatitis B each year, there are thought to be up to 950 infants who develop chronic hepatitis B from an untreated perinatal hepatitis B virus exposure. Even if it is more rare than that, skipping or delaying the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine is an unnecessary risk.

The AAP, CDC, and ACIP all recommend that newborns should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.

What to Know Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shots

The hepatitis B vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your baby from hepatitis B, a potentially life-threatening disease, and there is no good reason to skip their birth dose.

More About Your Baby’s Hepatitis B Shots

Competing Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

We know that.

donald-trump

Well, most of us know that.

But did you know that there are actually competing theories from anti-vaccine folks about how they think vaccines ’cause autism?’

Wakefield and MMR Causes Autism Theory

On one side, you have the followers of Andrew Wakefield who think that the MMR vaccine is to blame.

To be clear, they seem to think that the problem isn’t necessarily vaccines, but rather the combination of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines into one.

“Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.”

Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield had even filed a patent on his own vaccine replacement – a measles vaccine.

No, Thimerosal Causes Autism Theory

Then you have folks like Robert F Kennedy, Jr who claim that it is thimerosal in vaccines, which was actually removed in the late 1990s, that is to blame.

The thing is, although RFK, Jr believes that kids are still exposed to lots of thimerosal in vaccines, the MMR never ever contained thimerosal. So, if the MMR vaccine causes autism, it isn’t because of thimerosal.

And if thimerosal causes autism, then you can’t really blame the MMR vaccine…

No, Glyphosate Causes Autism Theory

And believe it or not, some folks don’t even blame vaccines!

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, with a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, believes that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is causing kids to become autistic.

“Is there a toxic substance that is currently in our environment on the rise in step with increasing rates of Autism that could explain this?… The answer is yes, I’m quite sure that I’m right, and the answer is glyphosate.”

Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D.

Well, they still blame vaccines.

They think vaccines are contaminated with glyphosate.

Stephanie Seneff actually believes that autism will “afflict 50% of American children by 2025.”

That’s right, she thinks half of all kids will be autistic in just 8 years.

It’s Everything About Vaccines That Causes Autism Theory

And lastly, you have folks who just want to blame anything and everything about vaccines.

They may have blamed the MMR vaccine or thimerosal at one time, but may have moved on to other vaccine ingredients, like aluminum or formaldehyde, or simply getting too many vaccines at the same time.

Or they may believe in combinations of theories, with all of the ‘toxins‘ in vaccines supposedly having a synergistic effect – causing autism.

In many cases, they might not even be sure what it is about vaccines that causes autism, but they are still sure it is vaccines.

Why are there so many competing theories about how vaccines could cause autism?

Could it be because vaccines don’t cause autism?

What To Know About Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Whichever anti-vaccine expert is pushing their theory, remember that vaccines still don’t cause autism.

For More Information on Anti-Vaccine Autism Theories

Where are the Double Blind Placebo Controlled Randomized Trials about Vaccines

Have you ever heard that there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials for vaccines?

It isn’t true.

There are many double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials that involved:

  • flu shots
  • pneumonia shots
  • HPV vaccines
  • potential HIV vaccines
  • malaria vaccines
  • rotavirus vaccines
  • Dengue vaccine
  • Staphylococcus aureus vaccine

That’s good, because double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials are considered the “gold standard” when you do medical research.

“Placebo Control – A comparator in a vaccine trial that does not include the antigen under study. In studies of monovalent vaccines this may be an inert placebo (e.g. saline solution or the vehicle of the vaccine), or an antigenically different vaccine. In combined vaccines, this may be a control arm in which the component of the vaccine being studied is lacking.”

WHO on the Guidelines on clinical evaluation of vaccines: regulatory expectations

Tragically, many more folks got pneumonia and died if they got the saline placebo instead of the vaccine in this study.
Tragically, many more folks got pneumonia and died if they got the saline placebo instead of the vaccine in this study.

But do they all use a saline placebo?

No, not always, which typically leads anti-vaccine types to dismiss them outright and push anti-vaccine misinformation, including that they are never done.

It seems that they aren’t worried so much about the antigens in vaccines anymore (the Too Many, Too Soon argument), but are now more concerned about other vaccine ingredients. They will only be satisfied with a saline placebo, but they must miss the part about wanting the trial to be double-blinded, which gets harder to do if the placebo doesn’t look and “feel” like the vaccine.

And they miss the part that “not always” doesn’t mean never.

Gardasil is a good, recent example of a vaccine that had a double-blind, placebo-controlled (using a saline solution without an adjuvant) trial for safety.

Others vaccine trials use a saline control too, including efficacy and safety trials for a new recombinant, live, attenuated, tetravalent dengue vaccine (it worked and had a good safety profile), a malaria vaccine (a phase I dose escalation study), a universal flu vaccine, a Staphylococcus aureus vaccine, etc.

The Ethics of Placebo Use in Vaccine Trials

So why haven’t placebo control studies been done even more routinely then?

Why isn’t every vaccine on the immunization schedule or every combination of vaccines tested using a double-blind, placebo controlled study?

“Placebo use in vaccine trials is clearly acceptable when (a) no efficacious and safe vaccine exists and (b) the vaccine under consideration is intended to benefit the population in which the vaccine is to be tested.”

Placebo use in vaccine trials: Recommendations of a WHO expert panel

Of course, the answer is that in order to do this type of study, you would have to have a very good justification for leaving many of the kids unprotected and at risk for a vaccine-preventable disease.

Instead, as is discussed in the article “Current topics in research ethics in vaccine studies,” if a vaccine is “already in use in some other country or community which is more or less comparable to site where the trial is planned, that vaccine should be used as the comparator.”

So instead of a placebo, it is more common “to give another vaccine that provides comparable benefit against another disease, or more willingly, against similar disease caused by different agents.”

When can you use a placebo control?

The article states that “placebo controls are ethically acceptable when there is no proven vaccine for the indication for which the candidate vaccine is to be tested.”

But get educated and don’t be fooled, many double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials have been done with vaccines.

What to Know About Placebo Use in Vaccine Trials

When it is ethical to do so, placebos have been used in vaccine trials, even saline placebos.

More on Placebo Use in Vaccine Trials