Pertussis vaccine waning effectiveness – the facts

The issues with the pertussis vaccine waning effectiveness has been circulating for several years. There have been a number of well-designed studies that have provided evidence of the issues with the pertussis component of the DTaP or Tdap vaccine (which also provides immunization against tetanus and diphtheria, both dangerous diseases).

According to current research, individuals who have been vaccinated against whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), with either the DTaP (version for usually for children) or Tdap vaccine, lose protection against whooping cough in some time period after being vaccinated.

A new article, published in Pediatrics, written by Nicola P Klein et al.,  examined children who received the Tdap vaccine in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) health care plan, a vertically integrated managed care system which closely tracks patients after vaccination. Their data provide important information about the strategies for the vaccine going forward.

Continue reading Pertussis vaccine waning effectiveness – the facts

Pediatric flu deaths 2015-16 – Update 2

In the USA, we’re nearing the heart of the flu season, with pediatric flu deaths peaking during the next 8-10 weeks. So far in the 2015-16 flu season (which generally starts on October 1), the CDC has reported that there have been 7 pediatric flu deaths through the 4th week of December. This is unchanged from the previous report.

Now, I know some of you may say “only 7,” but since pediatric flu is mostly prevented with a vaccine, we could prevent these 7 deaths. Moreover, it’s early. During the last 3 years, there were 171 pediatric flu deaths in 2012-13, 11 in 2013-14, and 148 in 2014-15 – most of the pediatric flu deaths happened after this week.

It seems that the the numbers are lower, so far, than in previous years. However, this flu season may be several weeks late, probably as a result of warmer weather (no, warm weather does not block the flu). Flu mortality across all ages crossed the threshold for an “epidemic” last week, so these numbers might increase. Let’s hope they don’t, but as opposed to what people believe, flu is dangerous.

Continue reading Pediatric flu deaths 2015-16 – Update 2

Your one stop shop for real science and myth-debunking about Gardasil

Recently, I read a new article published in Pediatrics that described how educating either teenagers or their parents about HPV vaccinations had little effect on the overall vaccination rate for the vaccine. Essentially, the researchers found that it was a 50:50 probability that any teen would get the vaccine, regardless of their knowledge of HPV and the vaccine itself.

So I thought about why that Pediatrics study found that education about HPV and Gardasil didn’t move the needle on vaccination uptake. It’s possible that the benefits of the vaccine is overwhelmed by two factors–first, that there’s a disconnect between personal activities today vs. a disease that may or may not show up 20-30 years from now; and second, that the invented concerns about the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, promulgated by the usual suspects in the antivaccination world, makes people think that there is a clear risk from the vaccine which is not balanced by preventing cancer decades from now. It’s frustrating. Continue reading Your one stop shop for real science and myth-debunking about Gardasil

CDC endorses powerful anti-cancer HPV vaccine

Recently, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have adopted new vaccination schedules for children and adolescents. Mostly, the changes were minor (read about it here), but it did include an endorsement for the more powerful anti-cancer HPV vaccine – known as Gardasil-9.

The new, more powerful, version of the HPV vaccinecleared, last year, by the US Food and Drug Administration, protects teens and young adults from 9 subtypes of HPV, helping prevent more cancers. The new vaccine, called Gardasil-9, prevents even more types of cancer.

This newest version of the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine safely and effectively prevents several forms of cancer in young adults by protecting the those who receive the vaccine from nine different types of the HPV virus.

In a clinical study about this more powerful HPV vaccine, published in Pediatrics, 3066 girls and boys, aged 9 through 15, were given a three-dose series of the new Gardasil-9 vaccine–day 1, month 1, and month 6. The researchers observed no serious adverse events and high immunogenicity (antibodies to all 9 HPV types). Continue reading CDC endorses powerful anti-cancer HPV vaccine

Vaccination mortality risk – there’s nothing there

Vaccination mortality risk is often trumpeted (no evidence, of course) by the vaccine deniers as being very high, and one of the major reasons to avoid vaccines. The news reports about deaths after HPV vaccines (bogus, of course) often focus on deaths, without even considering general background mortality of teens and young adults, even for relatively rare conditions.

Moreover, deaths attributed to vaccines are often not causally related. It may feel like one event that follows another event is related – but there may not be any correlation, let alone causality between the first event and the second.

Those of us who accept the fact that vaccines are very safe, and indeed, not really a risk for causing death, have found no evidence that there has been a single death attributed to vaccines over the past couple of decades. But that’s just examining the high quality scientific and medical literature, which may or may not be 100% inclusive of all post-vaccination mortality.

But, that has changed with a new study that was published on 1 February 2015. Continue reading Vaccination mortality risk – there’s nothing there

Merck whistleblowers – mumps and motions – updated

In August 2010 Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski (“the relators”), former Merck virologists and often called “Merck whistleblowers,” filed suit in the name of the United States – a so-called qui tam action, where the prosecution shares any fines or penalties with the two virologists  – against Merck.

They claimed that by faking effectiveness testing, Merck misled the United States government as to the effectiveness of the mumps component of its  MMRII vaccine (a vaccine which protects individuals against mumps, measles and rubella). In 2012  a clinic and two MDs filed a class action against Merck claiming violation of the Sherman Act – monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior resulting from the fraud – and violation of various state laws. (U.S. v. Merck and Chatom v. Merck). The suits were handled together. Continue reading Merck whistleblowers – mumps and motions – updated

Science denier indicators – the pseudoscience bullshit meter

As anyone who reads this blog regularly, it doesn’t take a genius to know I have little or no respect for science deniers. Over time, I’ve come to understand that dedicated science deniers don’t know or understand science, and live in a world of delusion that keeps them firmly planted in their anti-science dogma. And there are certain science denier indicators that can help you see the worst of the offenders.

I realize that there are lots of people out there who are legitimately confused by the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations, the obvious reality of anthropogenic climate change, the fact of evolution, or the safety of GMOs. And there are plenty of blogs out there that try to gently walk them through the logic, helping those who are confused with knowledge.

However, the Skeptical Raptor is more of a carnivore. The goal of this blog is to mock, belittle, annoy, ridicule and taunt the true science deniers. Those deniers who form a cult of science denialism while bathing in their Dunning-Kruger cognitive biases.

These science deniers, who are on both the left and right of the political spectrum sadly, are generally hateful, with a good dollop of antisemitism thrown in frequently.

And don’t let science deniers co-opt the word “skeptic.” Let’s be clear – real skepticism is based on real science. And a denialism is not.

There are three really good science denier indicators – which are used by my science denier radar (patent pending) – that can be used by anyone to separate the naive or innocent, still looking for information, and those with dogmatic opinions. Please keep this checklist handy.

Continue reading Science denier indicators – the pseudoscience bullshit meter

NVICP compensation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome – facts

A recent article that came up in my Google Alerts – regarding NVICP compensation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome – gives me a chance to address a few important misconceptions about NVICP and its decisions. The headline read:

U.S. Court Of Federal Claims Finds In Favor Of Petitioner Represented By Associate Attorney Vanessa Brice In Vaccine Injury Case.

The headline is misleading in a number of important ways. I thought that this was a good lead-in to examine the decision and the surrounding issues.

Continue reading NVICP compensation for Guillain-Barré Syndrome – facts

Index of articles by guest author–Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss – Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA) – is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. I know a lot of writers out there will link to one of her articles here as a sort of primary source to tear down a bogus antivaccine message.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination–she really is a well-published expert in this area of vaccine policy, and doesn’t stand on the pulpit with a veneer of Argument from Authority, but is actually an authority. Additionally, Reiss is also member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Below is a list of articles that she has written for this blog, organized into some arbitrary and somewhat broad categories for easy reference. Of course, she has written articles about vaccines and legal issues in other locations, which I intend to link here at a later date. This article will be updated as new articles from Dorit are added here.

Continue reading Index of articles by guest author–Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Your one stop shop for GMO science facts

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs or GMs) are one of the most well studied areas of biological and agricultural research. However, one of the tactics of the GMO refusers is that “there’s no proof that GMOs are safe.” It’s time to look at the GMO science facts – examining myth from science.

Typically, in a debate, the side making the assertion (those that say GMOs are unsafe) are responsible for the evidence that supports their contention. But, the anti-GMO gang relies upon the argument from ignorance, trying to force the argument to “if you can’t prove that they’re safe, they must be unsafe.”

The anti-GMO forces also like to invoke the precautionary principle, which attempts to shift the burden of proof to those who are advocating GMOs (or any new technology) until the advocates “prove” that there are absolutely no negative consequences of using GMOs.

The principle is often cited by anti-science and/or environmental activists when there is a perceived lack of evidence showing that a technology is absolutely safe.

I’ve written numerous articles about GMOs, focusing on scientific evidence supported by high quality research. And more than a few articles debunked myths and bad research from the anti-GMO crowd. To assist those who are doing research on the topic, this article was created to be a one-stop shop for GMO science facts – and fiction.

Continue reading Your one stop shop for GMO science facts

Stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle