Vaccines are one of the most important and crucial aspects for the long-term health of babies and young children. Except for a tiny, and irresponsible, minority of individuals who are opposed to vaccinations, greater than 95% of children are fully vaccinated for most vaccine preventable diseases by kindergarten. Unfortunately, a recently published article in Pediatrics provided evidence that teens are not keeping up with vaccinations that are critical to avoid infections from serious, and deadly, diseases. The study examines how vaccination rates have changed over the three year study period, and some of the reasons why they are not getting vaccinated. Continue reading “Survey identifies reasons for not vaccinating teens”
I get lots of email about my articles that are published here. Sometimes, it’s about grammar or spelling (and the grammar KGB can be uncivil at times). Sometimes, it’s compliments or questions about what I’ve written. Rarely, they’re rude and usually include quite immature comments about the location of my head. However, I recently received an email that is more or less polite, but is filled with so many errors and logical fallacies, that I thought it should be critiqued publicly.
Here are my point-by-point comments about the email:
I stumbled across your blog and could not believe what I was reading about the safety of Gardasil. As a mother of a Gardasil injured daughter, your profuse endorsement made me skeptical. I want to begin by saying I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-Gardasil. Continue reading “I get an email about Gardasil”
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus from the papillomavirus family that is capable of infecting humans. Like all papillomaviruses, HPVs establish productive infections only in keratinocytes of the skin or mucous membranes, making it easily transmitted sexually or through other intimate contact. While the majority of the known types of HPV cause no symptoms in most people, some types can cause warts (verrucae). HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, and cause most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers. The HPV quadrivalent vaccine, also known as Gardasil (or Silgard in Europe), is marketed by Merck. The vaccine prevents the transmission of certain types of HPV, specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18.
Although the safety of HPV vaccine has been thoroughly vetted for safety in studies with large cohorts, the long time period (up to decades) from infection to a diagnosis of an HPV-related cancer has left questions about how to maximize effectiveness of the vaccine which required further research. Continue reading “HPV–early vaccination maximizes effectiveness”
It’s getting close to flu season, and it’s time to get your flu shot. Of course, there are myths for why people won’t get their flu shots. All of them are amusingly bad.
Last fall, Dr. Mark Crislip published A Budget of Dumb Asses (requires a Medscape account) that takes on anti-science with a whole new level of snark. I have part of it here for you, thanks to Biodork’s (great name) Time for your flu shot! It’s all about getting (or not getting) the flu vaccination, but you can replace flu with any other vaccination. Apparently, he wrote it for health care workers, but hey, I think it works for patients too!
Mark Crislip starts out his snark with a quick statement about not getting a flu shot. You might be a dumb ass, if you’re unwilling to get the vaccine:
I wonder if you are one of those Dumb Asses who do not get the flu shot each year? Yes. Dumb Ass. Big D, big A. You may be allergic to the vaccine (most are not when tested), you may have had Guillain-Barre, in which case I will cut you some slack. But if you don’t have those conditions and you work in healthcare and you don’t get a vaccine for one of the following reasons, you are a Dumb Ass.
The Charleston (SC) Post and Courier reports that Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley vetoed a bill that would have provided sixth- and seventh-graders with information about the HPV vaccine. The vaccine would have been provided at no cost to all seventh-graders whose parents allowed them to have the vaccination. The bill had strong support from both Democrats and Republicans in the South Carolina legislature.
The HPV vaccine provides immunity to men and women against several types of human papilloma virus which is associated with with over 20,000 cancers in women and 11,000 cancers in men every year. Governor Haley defended her veto by calling the bill unnecessary and a “precursor to another taxpayer-funded healthcare mandate,” the Charleston Post and Courier reports.
State Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg, S.C.) sponsored the bill and blasted Haley’s move, calling her decision one that…
puts her own selfish political ambitions ahead of the people of South Carolina. This bill had bipartisan support and gives optional education and preventative vaccines to adolescents in an effort to thwart cervical cancer. This is a common sense approach to a very serious problem. To call this measure unnecessary is demeaning and insulting to the heroic women who fight this cancer everyday. I am deeply disappointed that politics once again has prevailed over women’s health.
In 2007, Haley actually co-sponsored a bill that would provide mandatory HPV vaccinations. It failed to pass through the legislature because it failed to provide opt-outs, which was corrected in the 2012 version.
Let’s be clear here. Haley did not veto this bill because of bad medicine or bad science. She vetoed it purely for political expediency and by doing so, she stands firmly against a simple inoculation that would prevent a deadly cancer. This is not a political issue, it is an anti-cancer issue.
Vaccines save lives. I guess Nikki Haley doesn’t understand that! Maybe she’ll provide cigarettes for free to the school children of South Carolina.
Ed Yong, a scientist and contributor to Discover Magazine, wrote an blog post, What does it mean to say that something causes 16% of cancers?, discussing a news report that stated that 16% of cancers around the world were caused by infections. Here are some excerpts:
A few days ago, news reports claimed that 16 per cent of cancers around the world were caused by infections. This isn’t an especially new or controversial statement, as there’s clear evidence that some viruses, bacteria and parasites can cause cancer (think HPV, which we now have a vaccine against). It’s not inaccurate either. The paper that triggered the reports did indeed conclude that “of the 12.7 million new cancer cases that occurred in 2008, the population attributable fraction (PAF) for infectious agents was 16·1%”.
But for me, the reports aggravated an old itch. I used to work at a cancer charity. We used to get frequent requests we got for such numbers (e.g. how many cancers are caused by tobacco?). However, whenever such reports actually came out, we got a lot confused questions and comments. The problem is that many (most?) people have no idea what it actually means to say that X% of cancers are caused by something, where those numbers come from, or how they should be used. Continue reading “Infections causes 16% of cancers–what?”
In next week’s issue of Forbes, Matthew Herper, the magazine’s medical editor, penned the article, The Gardasil Problem: How The U.S. Lost Faith In A Promising Vaccine, an insightful analysis of why Gardasil, the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), has not become as important to vaccination strategies as measles or whooping cough. All vaccines keep you alive, even if the disease does not appear to be scary. There’s a belief, especially amongst the anti-vaccination crowd, that measles is just a few spots, and there are few risks to being infected. The risk of severe complications is small, but significant.
On the other hand, the HPV vaccine does one thing and does it well–it prevents an HPV infection. Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease, causes 70% of cervical cancers, 80% of anal cancers, 60% of vaginal cancers, and 40% of vulvar cancers. It also prevents the majority of HPV caused oral cancers. In other words, these diseases are in a different league of danger. And they can be prevented. Continue reading “Why do Americans hate Gardasil?”
(Updated to add more information about the anti-vaccination lunatics weighing in.)
When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information. For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles. I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate. A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort. Continue reading “LeRoy neurological illness mystery–junk science–update”
When I write postings here, I never search google for information or sources, I always go to trusted locations for my information. For example, if I read a news article on some interesting subject, I check with the original source, usually at PubMed, for medical articles, and the original abstract (at least) for other science articles. I click on nearly every outlink in postings that I read, to confirm whether the information presented is accurate. A google search is practically useless, especially for medical articles, because the amount of cruft and junk science makes it a challenge to sort.
WordPress blogs (which I use) tells the user if a blog posting was searched on google (or Yahoo…does anyone use that anymore?) Apparently, my postings about the LeRoy (NY) neurological show up on google (but not that far up the list, so people must be digging), and I was kind of surprised. This led me to do something that I just vowed I wouldn’t do, I googled it. Continue reading “LeRoy teenage neurological illness mystery–junk science everywhere”
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination of males aged 11 or 12 years with HPV4 administered as a 3-dose series (recommendation category: A, evidence type: 2§). The vaccination series can be started beginning at age 9 years. Vaccination with HPV4 is recommended for males aged 13 through 21 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the 3-dose series. Males aged 22 through 26 years may be vaccinated. Continue reading “CDC makes recommendations on the use of HPV vaccine in males”