Like all medical procedures, devices, and pharmaceuticals, vaccines are not perfect – there are rare vaccine adverse events. What matters is that the benefits, not only medically but also economically, outweigh any risks. As far ask I know, no perfect medical procedures, devices or pharmaceuticals, none, that are perfectly safe or perfectly effective. Sometimes the ratio is small. For example, there are chemotherapy drugs that only add a few months to a patient’s life, usually with substantial side effects to the medication.
Yet, if you ask a patient whether it was worth it, to spend just a few extra months with their children and loved ones, the value becomes nearly incalculable. But mostly, the FDA and other regulatory agencies demand that new products and procedures must meet or exceed the safety, and meet or exceed the financial and health benefits of currently acceptable versions. Actually, the FDA examines a lot more than that. They check the packaging, shelf life, instructions, manufacturing practices, and so much more, it would take a book to explain it (and there probably are several). It may not be a perfect process, but it’s better than what we had 100 years ago, and it continues to improve every single day. People tend towards a form of confirmation bias where they remember where a drug may or may not have been found to be dangerous (best example is Vioxx).
But they forget about the millions of medications and devices that save lives or measurably improve the standard of living. Continue reading “Vaccine adverse events are rare – vast benefits outweigh small risks”
Today is Valentine’s Day, 2016. For many of you, it’s all about roses and chocolates. But for a bunch of us, it’s all about The Walking Dead and zombies. And in honor of the return of The Walking Dead, let’s talk about zombie anti-vaccine tropes that never die – the infamous CDC whistleblower oh my.
If you haven’t noticed, any time I can tie something I’m writing to zombies or The Walking Dead, I’m happy. So bear with me.
The antivaccination cult, lacking any real evidence for their unscientific beliefs, tend to grab on tightly to the flimsiest of stories. They love to scream “GOTCHA” to anything that shows up on the internet that puts vaccines in a bad light. A few years ago, they were jumping for joy regarding some comments from Dr. Diane Harper, who was promoted by the antivaccination crowd as the “lead researcher” for Gardasil. Except, the story was a lot different than they claimed.
Or promoting an “Italian court” that decided that MMR caused autism, relying upon the discredited and retracted study by one of the greatest scientific criminal frauds of the past 100 years, Mr. Andy Wakefield, who alleged a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Or trying to push the story of a French businessman, who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Merck’s data about Gardasil–all of it negative. Except he never worked in Merck’s R&D department and was made redundant when his company was acquired by Merck.
So what now? What zombie trope has come alive again?
Continue reading “CDC whistleblower – zombie anti-vaccine trope still lives”
Here we go again. Fake anti-vaccine research, which has no scientific value, but beloved by the pseudoscience pushing vaccine deniers, arises once again from the dustbin of science like a brainless zombie on a popular TV show.
Since the anti-vaccine religion has little or no scientific evidence to support their myths and beliefs, they need to rely upon dead and buried anti-vaccine research to invent their fake science about vaccines. And here comes ambling, confused “research” that we thought was dead and buried five years ago (yes, five years ago) to try to eat the brains of people who listen to the anti-vaccine pseudoscience.
We are here with a scientific sword to destroy this zombie anti-vaccine research. Continue reading “Zombie anti-vaccine research returns from the dead – real science laughs”
Last week, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden was arrested and charged with groping a woman at his home. The former CDC Director was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching, and harassment, the last of which carries a fine but no jail time.
Of course, within a few nanoseconds of the arrest, anti-vaccine quack websites did their best to tie his arrest to some imaginary and nonsensical malfeasance at the CDC. I don’t think any of us were surprised by this kind of attack by the anti-vaccine religion, but just in case someone thinks that what the former CDC Director did AFTER he was in charge of the CDC has something to do with vaccines, I’m here to disabuse anyone of that thought.
First of all, let us remember that Dr. Frieden has been charged but not found guilty of his actions. I know that the world has changed with the MeToo movement, and many of us have a sinking feeling that since he was caught here, there may be many more cases of it that will be uncovered from his past. Despite the current world where we no longer believe in “innocent until proven guilty,” it’s probably important to remember he has not been “proven guilty.”
Secondly, what has this got to do with vaccines? Well, nothing, but the anti-vaxxers love their silly strawman arguments and pseudo-conspiracies, so they will use it as a proxy to “prove” that the CDC is so corrupt that we can’t trust them on vaccines.
In case you weren’t watching, this has happened before when the anti-vaxxers invented a conspiracy when a Danish CDC researcher, Poul Thorsen, who stole about US$1 million from research funds. And that had nothing to do with vaccines.
The anti-vaccine conspiracies about former CDC Director Frieden have nothing to do with vaccines. Continue reading “Former CDC director arrested – hey anti-vaxxers, not relevant to vaccines”
Maybe some of you haven’t been following the reports about the European measles epidemic, but it’s scary news. The BBC News reported that more than 41,000 people have contracted measles in the first six months of 2018. Worse yet, 37 of those people have died of that virus.
Let me be blunt – nearly every one of those 41,000 cases and 37 deaths could have been prevented by the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps, and rubella). Period. Full stop. End of story.
In case I wasn’t clear, let me repeat myself – indulge me, we’re talking about children dying of an entirely preventable disease. Every single case of measles could have been prevented. Every single death could have been prevented. This isn’t a complicated story.
Maybe you think that Europe is a big area with over a half billion people, so this might be expected. That would be incorrect. Measles was almost extinct in much of the developed world. In 2016, there were just 5,273 measles cases for the whole year. In 2008, there were only 3,575 cases and one death. Measles was almost eliminated.
Let’s take a look at how this happened, and place blame right where it belongs – in the misinformation, pseudoscience, and outright lies of the anti-vaccine religion. Continue reading “Measles epidemic in Europe is killing children – blame anti-vaccine religion”
We have affirmative and robust evidence that vaccines are not linked to autism, but the moving goalposts of the anti-vaccine religion always provide us with some new scare tactic about vaccines and autism. But now we have some new powerful evidence that prenatal Tdap vaccine is not linked to autism.
The Tdap vaccine, which protects children and adults against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough), is the older child (>7 years old) and adult version, while the DTaP vaccine is the children’s version. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (pdf) strongly encourage expectant mothers to receive a prenatal Tdap vaccine in the third trimester to protect newborn babies.
The CDC recommends the first DTaP vaccine for babies at 2 months, but they are not fully protected until they receive their second dose at 4 months or third dose at 6 months. In the meantime, mothers could contract whooping cough, a bacterial infection that is extremely dangerous to infants and adults, that they pass to their newborn. The vaccine can stop that risk.
Let’s take a look at the new study that shows us, once again, that vaccines, even in an expectant mother, are not related to autism. And the prenatal Tdap vaccine protects the newborn, an important benefit. Continue reading “Prenatal Tdap vaccine does not increase risk of autism in children”
Vaccines and autism are not linked or related according to real science, published in real scientific journals written by top scientists and physicians.
But this false claim is in the news again. Probably as a result of reports that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. So let’s take a look at the science.
On 26 April 2018, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that new data showed a continued rise in the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is considered to be a disorder of neural development, usually appearing before the age of 3 years, characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior.
Predictably, the anti-vaccine community jumped on this information (despite their hatred of the CDC) to make unfounded claims, not backed by science, that this was all the fault of vaccines. Of course.
Continue reading “Vaccines and autism – science says they are unrelated”
The anti-vaccine world loves its myths, because, lacking any real scientific evidence supporting their outlandish claims, fairy tales are all they have. Not that I like picking and choosing the worst of the anti-vaccine urban legends, but the vaccine court myths are among the most egregious and ridiculous.
Although there are a lot of vaccine court myths, though this article will focus on just three:
- The vaccine court vs. civil courts.
- Vaccine manufacturers are immune to lawsuits.
- Billions of dollars have been paid out to “victims.”
- The vaccine court said that vaccines cause autism.
Let’s get to the article. Continue reading “Vaccine court myths – instead, here are facts about the NVICP”
I’m a couple of months late with this article because of life and reasons, but a bit over 20 years ago, in February 1998, Andrew Wakefield published his infamous article in Lancet, which was eventually retracted in 2010. He stated that “onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination in eight of the 12 children.” Because Wakefield claimed that most of the behavioral problems were autism, that became the rallying cry of the anti-vaccine religion for the past 20 years – the MMR vaccine, if not all vaccines, cause autism.
I actually remember getting that particular issue of Lancet 20 years ago, and I ran across that article. My first thought was, “why in hell would Lancet publish such a troublesome article with just 12 freaking (not the word I used) data points.” Then I wondered who that Wakefield character was – was he an expert on vaccines and childhood behavioral issues? Well, the internet in 1998 didn’t have search engines like we do today, so finding out anything about Andrew Wakefield was difficult at best. I just assumed that if the Lancet, one of the top medical journals in the world, published it, Wakefield must have some level of respect.
Even though the internet was as much a bastion of pseudoscience and conspiracists as it is now, you would never “do your research” on the internet. But our local newspaper had a blurb about the Wakefield study in a Sunday health section, and my wife read the article. She got panicked that our two young daughters, who were having upcoming MMR vaccines, would become autistic. That was my first experience in having to defend vaccines against nonsense (don’t tell my wife I called her worries were nonsense).
My daughters eventually got that vaccine (and received all subsequent vaccines up to and including the HPV vaccine), although even I monitored my children for a few weeks for any behavioral changes. Knowing what I know now, I should have just a fun dad, but I admit to worrying.
Let’s remind everyone about the frauds and lies of Andrew Wakefield because it has led to the return of vaccine-preventable diseases. Continue reading “20th anniversary of the Andrew Wakefield vaccine fraud – no celebrations”
On 27 April 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new statistics on autism incidence in the USA – the CDC estimated that 1 out of every 59 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2014. This is a fairly large increase over the 2002 numbers when the CDC estimated that 1 in 152 children was diagnosed with ASD. Just because the CDC updated autism statistics does not mean that there’s suddenly an autism epidemic, nor that vaccines are to blame.
Predictably, the anti-vaccine mob was resorting to their full-throated screaming mode about these new stats. And of course, even if you are a dispassionate observer of these numbers, you may wonder why the autism diagnosis rate has nearly tripled from 2002 to 2014.
And that’s why we’re here – let’s examine why and how the CDC updated autism statistics. And I’m going to show you why it’s not a sudden epidemic – it’s better scientific research. Continue reading “CDC updated autism statistics – not an epidemic, not caused by vaccines”