Skeptical Raptor's Blog hunting pseudoscience in the internet jungle

This deadly viral epidemic frightens me

1918-spanish-fluA deadly disease has entered the USA. And it took its first victim for the year, yesterday.(1)

During the past 10 years, this disease has killed up to 49,000 Americans, of all ages and demographic groups, annually.(2)

On average, 250,000-500,000 people die from the disease every year.(3)

During an average year, over 200,000 Americans are hospitalized for this viral infection.(4)

During one horrible outbreak of the disease, approximately 50-100 million people, mostly young healthy adults, were killed by the virus worldwide, all in one year.(5)

There is an amazing prevention for this disease that most people ignore–vaccines.(6)

References:

  1. DHEC: First Flu Related Death in the State.
  2. Estimating Seasonal Influenza-Associated Deaths in the United States: CDC Study Confirms Variability of Flu
  3. WHO | Influenza (Seasonal).
  4. Seasonal Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations in the United States 
  5. Reconstruction of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Virus
  6. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine

 

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Another flu vaccine myth–Big Pharma profits

Flu_Season_AheadThe 2014-15 flu season is upon us, and that means it’s flu vaccine time again. Despite the availability of several flu vaccines, many people think that the flu is a painless, harmless disease, a belief belied by evidence.

To put flu in perspective, in the USA, depending on the severity of the flu season, from 3,000 (which happened 25 years ago, and hasn’t been that low since) to 49,000 people die every year. Worldwide, about 250,000 to 500,000 people die from the flu every year. A flu pandemic, like the one in 1918, killed 50-100 million humans, much more scary than Ebola.

Of course, a fairly large group of people, including some who are pro-science (read, pro-vaccine), will fall into the arms of their favorite flu vaccine myth, and then refuse to get the flu vaccine. Given the dangers of the flu, and given the loss in productivity, income, and lives, you’d think that the flu vaccine would be near the top of health care needs for the average person.

Last year, fellow blogger, Tara Haelle, spent numerous hours putting together the Top 25 Myths about the flu vaccine, which she published here (and I rewrote and republished). Read it, because it blows most of the myths completely out of the water. But antivaccination myths are never static, there’s always a new variant.
(more…) «Another flu vaccine myth–Big Pharma…»

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Poll: what’s scarier than Ebola

ebola-virus-disease

There are actually more worrisome public health issues than Ebola.

What worries you?

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Lions, tigers and ebola–oh my!

ebolavirusUnless you’ve been living under a rock (which is admittedly difficult), you might be aware of the Ebola virus. And that it has entered the USA–one patient, not exactly an epidemic. And, according to public health officials, about 10 people are at risk from the disease from contact with this “patient zero” in the USA. Despite these minuscule, small, tiny numbers, you’d think America is facing a disaster of epic proportions.

Not so fast. I’m not saying we should ignore this disease, or minimize it’s danger, but seriously, in the grand scheme of the world, is this something to actually worry about? I have completely ignored the disease, other than mocking homeopaths for attempting to cure the disease, because there are so many infectious diseases that are actually more scary than Ebola.

Let’s get some facts then.
(more…) «Lions, tigers and ebola–oh my!»

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Improved high dose flu vaccine for seniors

flu-vaccine-seniorIt’s that time of year again, early autumn, when flu experts recommend getting the seasonal flu vaccine, especially for children and individuals over 65. Of course, if you don’t think you should get the vaccine, there’s a description for a person like you.

One of the issues that has been observed in the past is that the traditional flu vaccines may not have a high effectiveness in older adults. In fact, recent research shows that, in patients over 65 years old, the effectiveness of the flu vaccines can be as low as 9% for some strains of the influenza A virus (but still strong effectiveness for that group for other strains of influenza A and all strains of the influenza B virus).

The lower effectiveness may not be a result of the vaccine itself, but because older individuals may require more antigen to induce a proper immune response. Because of these observations, Sanofi Pasteur developed a high dose version of their Fluzone vaccine specifically for seniors. The new high dose vaccine contains 60 μg of each of the three hemagglutinin antigens per vaccine dose compared to the 15 μg per antigen in the standard Fluzone dose.
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Poll–Will you and family members get the flu vaccine?

 

President Obama getting his flu vaccine because he really can’t get sick

President Obama getting his flu vaccine because he really can’t get sick

It’s that time of the year. It’s time to get your seasonal flu vaccine, so will you get it? Will you make your significant other get it? Will you take your children to the pediatrician to get it? Or will you fall for the lies and myths, pretend like you are a superior genetic human being and will never get the flu? Time to vote and drop an explanation in the comments, so that the world can read them!

 

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Dumb Asses who don’t get the flu vaccine

flu-shot-mythsEvery flu season, I resurrect this hysterical and snarky by Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mark Crislip which was originally published in A Budget of Dumb Asses, which accurately states that healthcare workers who refuse to get a flu vaccine are Dumb Asses. Yes, complete and utter Dumb Asses. Even though this broadside against vaccine deniers is about the flu vaccine, it’s all right to search and replace flu with say meningitis, pertussis, measles or anything. And just because it’s about healthcare workers, it’s all right to replace that with your neighbor, co-worker, or some other anti-scientific antivaccination Dumb Ass.

The upcoming 2014-2015 flu season is just starting, and many physicians and clinics (along with many pharmacies, government flu clinics, and other places) have this season’s flu vaccine. One of the best ways, if not the only real way, to prevent contracting this year’s flu is by immunization with the seasonal flu vaccine.

And it’s time for intelligent, reasonable, and rational people to get their flu shots. We’ve dispensed with many of the myths that are cherished by vaccine refusers, and many reseachers have shown that getting the flu vaccine can improve health outcomes.

Warning: this is funny (unless you’re a vaccine denier, in which case you have no sense of humor, irony or sarcasm, something probably gained by getting vaccinated). So, if you’re reading this list while sipping on coffee, I take no responsibility for damage to your computer, smart phone, or tablet if you snort out your drink. Them’s the rules. 
(more…) «Dumb Asses who don’t get…»

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Natural News gets it all wrong about mandatory vaccinations–Part 2

dorit-reissThis article was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, CA.

Dr. Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. She 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.

This article is the second part of a two-part series about a Natural News article published recently. See Part 1-the science.

Healthcare Mandates, Influenza, and Hospital Policies

Worried about transmission of influenza from healthcare workers to patients, hospitals and legislators have been working for several years to increase the rates of workers vaccinated against it. Initially, hospitals tried education. That helped raise vaccination rates some, but they were still dismally low. Hospitals then tried offering a “declination form,” acknowledging the risks of not vaccinating (pdf). Again, this was effective, but not enough – not up to the 90% standard sought.

Starting in 2005 (with Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, in 2005), some hospitals – still a small minority – have adopted mandatory vaccination policies. While the numbers are small, they are growing.
(more…) «Natural News gets it all…»

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Natural News gets it all wrong about mandatory vaccinations–Part 1

natural-news-bullshitFor the typical American skeptic, there is nothing surprising by a headline that says that Natural News get it’s it all wrong. Most skeptics might wonder when they’ve ever gotten it right.

Just to be thorough, Natural News is a website that’s focused on anti-science delusions and pushing junk medicine, while marketing a whole boatload of nonsense remedies and “cures” for whatever makes the website money. It is owned by Mike Adams, self-styled “Health Ranger”, considered one of the biggest lunatics on the internet. Some consider him the #1 American Lunatic (and that takes some serious effort). Adams is so delusional, he insists that he’s just as science-oriented as Neil deGrasse Tyson. Only if it’s one of those alternative universes, I suppose.

Natural News has had a long history of vaccine denial, which always piques my interest, even if it’s to laugh hysterically. Occasionally, however, Natural News takes its anti-science beliefs to a whole new level, one that requires a double-pronged rebuttal and refutation.
(more…) «Natural News gets it all…»

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Health Care Workers, Flu Vaccines, and Work Place Discrimination

dorit-reissGuest blog by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss. Dr. Reiss is a Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of  the Law in San Francisco, CA. Dorit writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. This article discusses employer and employee rights regarding vaccination requirements in healthcare institutions.

In a previous post, I described a New Jersey Court of Appeals case in which Ms. Valent was denied unemployment benefits because she refused to be vaccinated against the flu without claiming the religious exemption. I explained that the hospital was not constitutionally required to provide a religious exemption, and that doing so was a losing proposition from a hospital’s point of view.

In the comments following that post, it was correctly pointed out to me that there is another claim I should have addressed: a claim that the hospital was required to provide a religious exemption under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This did not come up in the case itself: the court reinstated the nurse’s unemployment benefits on constitutional grounds, though problematic constitutional grounds. But since I argue that hospitals should not offer a religious exemption, I need to address whether the hospital is required, under Title VII, to offer an accommodation. 
(more…) «Health Care Workers, Flu Vaccines,…»

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