Tag: Walter Orenstein

Del Bigtree vs Stanley Plotkin

Del Bigtree talks about Stanley Plotkin a lot on his “show.”

In addition to developing the rubella vaccine, Stanley Plotkin literally wrote the book on vaccines.
In addition to developing the rubella vaccine, Stanley Plotkin literally wrote the book on vaccines.

He even seems to have come up with a regular feature, Plotkin on Vaccines.

Del Bigtree vs Stanley Plotkin

I’ll let Del explain why you should listen to Dr. Plotkin if you want to keep you kids safe and healthy:

“For those of you who are tuning in for the first time, and who don’t know who Stanley Plotkin is, this is Plotkin’s Vaccines. This is the biggest textbook on vaccines. He wrote it. Good for him. I think Paul Offit had something to do with it. I think actually Frank DeStefano and Walter Orenstein – a lot of people involved in this. But it’s called Plotkin’s Vaccines.

So Stanley Plotkin has made more vaccines in the history of the world. “

Del Bigtree on The United States of Pharma

Yes, Stanley Plotkin literally wrote the book on vaccines.

Del just uses misinformation to try to take him down each week…

What’s the latest complaint?

That Dr. Plotkin should have published a letter that was critical of a vaccine safety paper, Principal Controversies in Vaccine Safety in the United States. The letter was by Romain K Gherardi, a researcher that is known to use “cherry-picked data to suggest that aluminum in vaccines accumulates in the brain and nervous system, causing ‘toxic effects.'”

The thing is, not publishing the letter is not censorship.

It’s actually false balance to publish it.

While anti-vaccine folks typically elevate anyone and everyone who supports their ideas as the best and greatest in their field, they generally aren’t. They are typically doing junk science that is quickly torn apart by real scientists.

If you watch this week’s Plotkin on Vaccines, despite Del saying the video wasn’t edited, you will miss some stuff from the transcript of Plotkin’s deposition.

“So my comments are, one, that my estimate was pretty much correct. Second, that, unfortunately, Dr. Shaw has been associated with the party that I mentioned before, Tomljenovic, who, in my view, is completely untrustworthy as far as scientific data are concerned. So I’m concerned about Dr. Shaw being influenced by that individual.

And I’m not aware that there is evidence that aluminum disrupts the developmental processes in susceptible children.”

Stanley Plotkin

And Plotkin never says that he considers the French group or Romain K Gherardi a respected researcher, as Del claims. At one point, he does say that he considers the Journal of Neuroscience a respectable journal, but they weren’t talking about Gherardi’s study or aluminum.

“And it’s just your kids, it’s just your kids caught in between this group of lies, damn lies, and statistics. It’s only the health of your children hanging in the balance.”

Del Bigtree on The United States of Pharma

Well, it’s my kids too who are at risk if you decide to listen to the lies of these folks and don’t vaccinate your kids. Stop listening to them. Stop spreading their propaganda.

More on Del Bigtree vs Stanley Plotkin

We Know Vaccines Work

We know vaccines work.

How well do they work?

In addition to eradicating smallpox, did you know that vaccines have helped eliminate four other now vaccine-preventable diseases?

  1. diphtheria
  2. neonatal tetanus
  3. polio
  4. congenital rubella syndrome

And unlike measles, which was declared eliminated in 2000, we really don’t see these diseases anymore.

We Know Vaccines Work

How well do vaccines work?

Let’s look at the disease counts (morbidity data), how many kids got sick, just before we developed a vaccine and where we are now:

DiseasePre-Vax EraNow% Decrease
Smallpox110,672last case 1977 100%
Diphtheria30,508199.9%
Pertussis265,26913,43994.9%
Tetanus6012096.7%
Neonatal Tetanus1,000+0100%
Polio21,269last case 1993100%
Measles763,094372 99.9%
Mumps212,9342,25198.9%
Rubella488,796599.9%
Congenital Rubella Syndrome20,0000100%
Hib invasive18,0002799.9%
HepB300,0002,79999.1%
Perinatal HepB16,20095294.1%
Pneumococcal invasive64,40098698.5%
HepA254,51811,16695.6%
Varicella5,358,5956,89299.9%

Sandra Roush and Trudy Murphy provided us with pre-vaccine baselines for 13 vaccine-preventable diseases in their article, Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.

“A greater than 92% decline in cases and a 99% or greater decline in deaths due to diseases prevented by vaccines recommended before 1980 were shown for diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, and tetanus. Endemic transmission of poliovirus and measles and rubella viruses has been eliminated in the United States; smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. Declines were 80% or greater for cases and deaths of most vaccine-preventable diseases targeted since 1980 including hepatitis A, acute hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella. Declines in cases and deaths of invasive S pneumoniae were 34% and 25%, respectively.”

Roush et al on Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.

Their study, which came out in 2007, used morbidity (2006) and mortality (2004) data that was recent at the time. The data has held up very well since then, looking at 2018 statistics in the National Notifiable Infectious Diseases Weekly Tables (see below), even with talk of waning immunity for some vaccines.

But can’t you explain all of this decline away by talking about better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition?

Of course not!

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

Walter Orenstein, MD

The pre-vaccine era for Hib was just before 1988, when the first Hib vaccine came out. We had good hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition in the 1980s and yet, a lot of kids died from Hib meningitis and epiglottitis. At least they did until he got a vaccine to prevent it.

And if it was better hygiene and sanitation, etc., why did it affect every disease at a different time? And why hasn’t better hygiene and sanitation stopped RSV, HIV, norovirus, Zika, and all of the other non-vaccine-preventable diseases?

Although there was a decline in mortality rates at the beginning of the 20th Century for all diseases thanks to better hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition, that effect plateaued by the mid-1930s. And since a lot of people were still getting sick, remember everyone used to get measles, even if a small percentage would die, it would add up to a lot of deaths!

Vaccines aren’t perfect, but they are safe, with few risks, and work well. Get vaccinated and protected if you want to keep from getting and bringing back these now vaccine-preventable diseases.

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Who was Betty Bumpers?

Only when every child has completed his or her series of immunizations will our job be completed.

Even as some schools and communities continue to face outbreaks of measles, chicken pox, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, there is a very good chance that your kids are in a school where you don’t have to worry about them getting sick.

There is also a good chance that you have no idea who made that possible.

Who was Betty Bumpers?

Sure, a lot of it has to do with all of the parents who are making the right choice in vaccinating and protecting their kids.

And of course, there are the folks who actually developed the vaccines.

But there was a time when we had many vaccines and kids still weren’t getting protected.

“I don’t think that there is anything more important than immunizing our children and preventing unnecessary suffering. We’ve seen too much of that and it’s been so exciting now to see immunization rates going up. Betty Bumpers and I have worked on this for a long time, but Betty Bumpers is the real hero. She has done more for immunizations than any one person in this whole country.”

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

That changed in the early 1970s, when Betty Bumpers, as the First Lady of Arkansas, worked to raise immunization rates in her state, with the Every Child By ’74 campaign.

The Every Child in '74 immunization program immunized over 300,000 children in Arkansas.
The Every Child in ’74 immunization program immunized over 300,000 children in Arkansas.

She didn’t stop in Arkansas though.

“I believe our program, based upon volunteers and government agencies already in pace, has been tremendously successful.”

Betty Bumpers

In 1975, she told a Senate subcommittee that her immunization program could serve as a model for other states too.

“Measles incidence declined dramatically after large vaccination campaigns, but transmission was not interrupted. The licensure of rubella vaccine in 1969 led to mass campaigns to immunize children to avert an anticipated repeat of the tragic epidemic of 1964–65, which resulted in the births of approximately 20,000 infants with congenital rubella syndrome. The rubella campaigns diverted attention and funding from measles, resulting in a resurgence of measles. Federal funding for Section 317 declined during the early to mid-1970s. Immunization coverage fell, and disease increased.”

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, Immunizations, and MMWR — 1961–2011

A few years later, President Jimmy Carter announced the National Childhood Immunization Initiative of 1977, a program that was stimulated by the efforts of Betty Bumpers, with Rosalynn Carter.

In addition to increased spending on immunization programs, we soon had laws in every state requiring students to be vaccinated before they could attend school, and not surprisingly, measles cases quickly dropped.

It didn’t last.

Without support for immunization programs from the Reagan administration, vaccination rates dropped and measles cases soared.
The Role of Measles Elimination in Development of a National Immunization Program

In the year’s that followed the Carter administration, Federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance also increased.

To help combat this rise in vaccine-preventable disease, Betty Bumpers, again with Rosaylnn Carter, launched Every Child By Two – Carter/Bumpers Champions for Immunization.

Founded in 1991, Every Child By Two, now Vaccinate Your Family, has worked to raise awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated on time and on schedule. This was especially important at the time, when many preschool age kids weren’t getting vaccinated. And it still is, as misinformation about vaccines continues to scare some parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

She also worked with her husband, Senator Dale Bumpers, to encourage Bill Clinton’s administration to develop the Childhood Immunization Initiative, which he proposed in 1993, and to pass the Vaccines for Children Program, which was created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

The Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center wad dedicated in 1999.

In addition to her work helping get kids vaccinated, Betty Bumpers:

She is truly a hero and should be remembered for all of the work she did.

Whether folks understand it or not, it is because of the work of Betty Bumpers that even as some folks skip or delay their child’s vaccines, the outbreaks they cause are eventually contained before they get out of control.

Betty Bumpers was a champion in our efforts to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases among children in the United States.  She played a major leadership role as 1st Lady of Arkansas in improving immunization in that state and was inspirational in launching the first major Presidential Initiative on Immunization during the late 1970s.  She continued to be a major immunization advocate through much of her life launching “Every Child By Two (ECBT)” which she chaired along with Mrs. Rosalyn Carter, now “Vaccinate Your Family”.

Walter Orenstein

That work will continue to save the lives of millions of children, at least it will as long as we don’t let folks chip away at it, allowing them to abuse exemptions and spread propaganda, scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

That’s why we all must continue her work

For as Betty Bumpers said, “only when every child has completed his or her series of immunizations will our job be completed.”

More on Betty Bumpers


Why Do We Only Worry About Measles?

Anti-vaccine folks often claim that health officials only worry about measles and measles outbreaks.

They can’t understand why anyone gets concerned by a few measles cases here and there, not understanding that a lot of work goes into containing measles outbreaks and making sure that they don’t grow beyond a few cases.

And health officials don’t just worry about measles. They work to control outbreaks of mumps, pertussis, hepatitis A, and all other diseases too.

Why We Worry About Measles Outbreaks

We do get concerned about measles outbreaks though.

“Whenever measles strikes, it’s more than just an outbreak of a single disease, or an indication that children aren’t receiving their measles shots; it’s also a warning that immunization coverage in general, for all vaccine-preventable diseases, is lower than it should be.

To put it another way: When rates of routine vaccination—children receiving all their shots on schedule, as a preventive measure rather than a reaction to an outbreak—start to fall, the first sign is usually a measles outbreak.”

Seth Berkley on Measles Outbreaks Are a Sign of Bigger Problems

The measles vaccine is among the most effective vaccines we have, so if we are seeing outbreaks, even though measles is very contagious, it means there is a problem.

“A focus on measles surveillance can help detect populations unreached by immunization systems and, by extension, program weaknesses. Measles serves as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for detecting problems with immunization programs, a characteristic whose importance has recently been highlighted in the context of global health security.”

Orenstein et al on Measles and Rubella Global Strategic Plan 2012–2020 midterm review

In the late 1980s, when we had large outbreaks between 1989 to 1991, with 55,622 cases and 123 deaths, it meant that we weren’t vaccinating enough kids because Federal support for vaccine programs had dropped.

As much as anti-vaccine folks like to try and minimize how serious measles can be, it is easy to see that measles is indeed a serious, life-threatening disease. We had good nutrition, proper sanitation, and modern health care in 1990, and still, a lot of people died with measles. Rates of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), a late complication of measles, went up too, in the years after these outbreaks.

“Measles is a wholly preventable disease, and it was almost eradicated from the country in 1983, when only 1,497 cases were reported. But by 1990, after Federal budget cuts and the end of the Government’s monitoring of immunization programs, more than 30,000 cases of measles and more than 60 deaths were reported.”

Panel Ties Measles Epidemic to Breakdown in Health System

Those outbreaks were fixed, as we improved access to help kids get vaccinated and protected. Unfortunately, the issue with outbreaks today isn’t about access to vaccines, at least not in the developed world. It is about parents intentionally skipping or delaying vaccines.

How do you fix that?

Hopefully with education.

Why You Should Worry About Measles Outbreaks

Did you know that after the measles outbreaks of 1989, we also saw outbreaks of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome?

  • 396 cases of rubella, 4 deaths, and 2 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1989
  • 1,125 cases of rubella, 8 deaths, and 32 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1990
  • 1,401 cases of rubella, 1 death, and 34 cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1991

Did you know that because they have overall lower vaccination rates, measles outbreaks in Europe grow far larger, into the tens of thousands of cases, with dozens of deaths?

“We must not tolerate a world in which a child dies from a disease that can be easily prevented with a low-cost vaccine.”

Dr Tedros, WHO Director-General on World Immunization Week 2018

We worry about measles outbreaks, because we don’t want to go back to anti-vaccine folks push us back to pre-vaccine era levels of disease and deaths.

We know what happens when vaccine levels drop too low.

A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this front page NYTimes article reports.
A measles epidemic hit New York City in 1951, as this NY Times article reports.

We know that vaccines are safe and necessary.

You should know that anti-vaccine propaganda that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids is rooted in myths and misinformation. They often get away with it because most parents today ahve never seen how devastating measles and other diseases can really be, so they believe stories about the Brady Bunch, instead of the advice of real experts.

You hopefully understand that’s a mistake.

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