Yes, vaccine herd immunity works – scientific evidence supports this fact

herd immunity

This piece is a summary of Herd Immunity and Immunization Policy: The Importance of Accuracy, published in v. 94 of the Oregon Law Review.

As a bit of background, in an article that was published in the Oregon Law Review in 2014, authors Mary Holland and Chase E Zachary claimed that school immunization mandates are inappropriate because they reject the concept that herd immunity works.

This article will explain why Holland and Zachary’s analysis or immunization mandates and herd effect is simply incorrect. And let’s be clear – there is a legitimate debate about whether school immunization mandates are appropriate, policy-wise, as a response to non-vaccination.

Unlike vaccine science, the appropriate policy to handle non-immunization is not agreed upon, and the data on what is the right way to get people to vaccinate is anything but clear (though some things are clear – for example, harder to get exemptions lead to higher vaccination rates). But the debate needs to be premised on accurate facts – not on misuse of legal terms and incorrect scientific data. Holland and Zachary’s article does not provide that. Continue reading “Yes, vaccine herd immunity works – scientific evidence supports this fact”

HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review

hpv vaccine

In 2018, “The HPV Vaccine On Trial: Seeking Justice For A Generation Betrayed”, was published. It was written by attorneys Kim Mack Rosenberg and Mary Holland, and Eileen Iorio described as a “health coach.”

As the title suggests, the book concluded that the HPV vaccine (from the first vaccine, licensed in the U.S. in 2006) was a betrayal, because it was unjustified, harmful, and with no health benefits. As the authors’ first chapter lays out, their opinion is in tension with statements from health authorities and cancer authorities worldwide – and goes against a large amount of data.

It is no exaggeration to say that the book is ill-founded, misleading, and anti-vaccine to the core. HPV vaccines have been especially signaled out by anti-vaccine activists since their creation. This book draws on anti-vaccine claims made over the years, including most of the older anti-vaccine tropes (claims, by the way, that are not always consistent with each other – for example, is the problem aluminum in vaccines, or a novel and different adjuvant?) and offering new (and ill-founded – see the discussion of chapter 8 below) ones.

To explain the problems with it, three of us divided the subjects in the book, and are reviewing it as a team. A review by Dan Kegel, who has an undergraduate degree in biology from Caltech and maintains a comprehensive site with the data on HPV and HPV vaccines, is found here. A review of the chapters on autoimmunity, aluminum, and a few more by John Kelly, a career biochemist, and molecular biologist and a survivor of HPV+ cancer, will be added later.

The book has four parts. I will not cover all of it, out of concern of making this review overly long. But I will raise some of the highlights. I am putting chapter 2 and 15 aside to address in my discussion below of the general use of anecdotes. Continue reading “HPV vaccine fear mongering in an anti-vax book – a critical review”

Children’s Health Defense anti-vaccine attack on Paul Offit – this again

Children's Health Defense

Maybe you don’t know much about Children’s Health Defense, but it’s a newer anti-vaccine group run by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has become one of the high priests of the anti-vaccine religion. RFK Jr., scion of the Kennedy family who dominated US politics for decades, has gone off the deep end of conspiracies from the assassinations of his father, Robert F. Kennedy,  and uncle, John F. Kennedy, to the discredited belief that vaccines cause autism.

Children’s Health Defense, as a proxy for RFK Jr.’s lunatic beliefs about vaccines, decided to utilize ad hominem attacks on Dr. Paul Offit as part of their offensive against vaccines. Why? Because the anti-vaccine crackpots lack any evidence of any of their claims, so the best they can do is attack people with childish name-calling and logical fallacies. If this wasn’t about saving children’s lives with safe and effective vaccines, I’d just laugh at these people. They are ridiculous members of a lunatic fringe.

Although I’m not going to waste your time tearing apart each absurd attack they make on Dr. Offit, I’ll tackle a few. For educational purposes only! Continue reading “Children’s Health Defense anti-vaccine attack on Paul Offit – this again”

Incompetent Italian court vaccine ruling – good comedy

 

Professor Dorit Reiss recently posted an article here about a 2014 ruling from an Italian court in Milan that awarded compensation to a child that was claimed to have developed a neurological deficit after receiving GSK’s hexavalent vaccine, which protects children against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B. Essentially, the decision was based on one so-called “expert” who seemed to think the tropes of the antivaccination world were scientifically based.

Professor Reiss pretty much debunks the legal arguments for that case by actually reviewing the court ruling rather than accept the word of various biased blogs and “news reports” out there in the world.

Of course, I’m not a legal scholar (nor do I play one on the internet), but Italy’s reputation as the center of legal interpretation of science is almost at the level of good comedy given its history. Italian court vaccine rulings would be great comedy if only it didn’t put children in harm’s way.

Remember, a previous Italian provincial court decided that vaccines cause autism, by accepting MrAndy Wakefield fraudulent claims over the consensus of science–vaccines do not cause autism. Update–an Italian appeals court overturns this Italian court vaccine ruling because of the lack of scientific evidence.

And let’s not forget about the Italian court that convicted six geologists for manslaughter because they could not accurately predict earthquakes (which no one can do, unless you’re a psychic). If this weren’t actually true, you’d think I was making this stuff up. Continue reading “Incompetent Italian court vaccine ruling – good comedy”

Ursula K. LeGuin is Not an Anti-Vaxxer–Or Why the Omela Argument Fails

Guest blog by Stacy Mintzer Herlihy. Ms Herlihy is a New Jersey based writer, mother of two daughters, Champion for [email protected] and the co-author of the book, Your Baby’s Best Shot: Why Vaccines Are Safe and Save Lives.

ursala-k-le-guinUrsula K. LeGuin is one of great voices of contemporary science fiction. I love her so much I once named a cat in her honor. UrseCat was a grouchy but gloriously pretty long hair we adopted from the North Shore Animal League. Much to Ms. LeGuin’s gracious delight, I brought Miss Ursula Cat to meet the writer when she showed up for a reading in midtown Manhattan.

So it was to my utter shock and disbelief, that I opened up a book with a clear anti-vax agenda and found that it was organized around one of her very best stories. The book in question is Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children by Louise Kuo Habakus, Mary Holland and Kim Mack Rosenberg.

In Ms. LeGuin’s much lauded story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, we are greeted with a society where all is well but for one particular fact. A single child must be always kept in misery in order for the city to function and for the citizens of the society to be happy. Most citizens learn to cope with fact and accept it. However, some people walk away from the Omelas and from utopia. Continue reading “Ursula K. LeGuin is Not an Anti-Vaxxer–Or Why the Omela Argument Fails”