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Vaccines are safe and effective–vaccine refusers ignore the facts

Denialism evolved from Apes. OK, maybe not.

Despite a constant stream of scientific articles, blogs, and news reports that vaccines are not only safe and effective, but have saved millions of lives, there remains a stubborn block of about 5-10% of Americans who continue to refuse to vaccinate their children. Worse yet, there are clusters of areas, often wealthy and better educated, with much higher rates of vaccine denial–areas which can be ground zero of serious outbreaks or epidemics of vaccine preventable diseasesRead More »Vaccines are safe and effective–vaccine refusers ignore the facts

Big Pharma will make a boatload of money from vaccines–good news

Money injectionAccording to a new market research report (a very expensive report hidden behind a paywall), estimate that the total vaccine market will grow from its current worldwide value of approximately US$30 billion to approximately US$100 billion in 2025. That’s an annual growth rate of approximately 10-15% for the sector compared to a 5-7% annual growth rate for all other pharmaceuticals. Still, in 2025, the total worldwide market for pharmaceuticals will be nearly US$800 billion and for medical devices (largely owned by pharmaceutical companies) nearly US$700 billion, which still makes vaccines a small part (about 7%) of the total medical products business.Read More »Big Pharma will make a boatload of money from vaccines–good news

Measles, mumps, rubella outbreaks–the culpability of Andrew Wakefield

Wakefield-fraudThis week, writer Aaron Carroll provided a graphic depiction of the toll of the antivaccination movement, which itself comes from a Council on Foreign Relations interactive map of “vaccine-preventable outbreaks” worldwide 2008-2014. I narrowed down the map to just include measles, mumps, and rubella, three diseases that can and are prevented by the MMR (or more commonly in the USA, MMRV, which includes chickenpox) vaccine.

Even though the vaccine deniers champion the trope that these diseases are “not serious,” real evidence from real infectious disease medical specialists say otherwise. Measles, mumps and rubella can be dangerous diseases with debilitating complications, including death, for both children and adults. And as you can see in the map (click on it for greater detail), outbreaks of measles (in red), mumps (in olive) and rubella (in blue) are larger than it should be in both the developed and the developing world than it should be, given the easy access to the MMR (or MMRV) vaccines.Read More »Measles, mumps, rubella outbreaks–the culpability of Andrew Wakefield

Delaying measles vaccination may increase risk of seizures

keep-calm-get-shots-bigThere is an unscientific myth, pushed by some parts of the vaccine deniers (more accurate, vaccine delayers), that parents should delay vaccinations based on the unsupported belief that “too many vaccines” could overwhelm the child’s immune system. This belief is utterly unscientific and thoroughly debunked

That belief is unfounded, as Paul Offit summarized in Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?:

Current studies do not support the hypothesis that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken, or “use up” the immune system. On the contrary, young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment. By providing protection against a number of bacterial and viral pathogens, vaccines prevent the “weakening” of the immune system and consequent secondary bacterial infections occasionally caused by natural infection.

Read More »Delaying measles vaccination may increase risk of seizures

Legal liability of anti-vaccine parents whose children infect others

Law & Order: SVU, an American crime drama television series set in New York City did a story about the legal liability of anti-vaccine parents. It usually bases episodes on real news stories but putting some twist on them. And for fans of the show, it is addicting.

In the spring of 2009, an episode entitled Selfish aired. The plot was about an immature, irresponsible young mother who was assumed to have killed her child. In a major plot twist (and actually one that caught me by surprise), the coroner determines that the child died from measles, in what turned out to be an outbreak of the disease in fictional New York City.  

The Assistant District Attorney then decides to prosecute the mother of the child who started the measles outbreak because she had refused to immunize her child for all of the reasons popularized by the vaccine deniers. Unfortunately, the producers of the show didn’t give us the full satisfaction of having that mother spend time in prison (and if one looked at the episode with even amateur legal eyes, it probably wasn’t going to happen). 

But the episode is popular with many of us on the pro-science side, and I have tweeted when the episode is on a rerun somewhere. So let’s look into the legal liability for an anti-vaccine parent whose child infects others.

Read More »Legal liability of anti-vaccine parents whose children infect others
Alex Spourdalakis

Vaccine deniers think the murder of Alex Spourdalakis is acceptable

I do not want to be that guy that invents a conspiracy, because I am not that guy. But as the tin-foil hat crowd are known to proclaim, “just connect the dots.” Well, I will reluctantly follow their advice and connect the dots. And it’s going to be hard to not feel nauseous as we do follow those mysterious dots regarding the murder of Alex Spourdalakis.

Sharyl Attkisson, a 15 year veteran news reporter for CBS, has been a shill for the antivaccine groups who think that vaccines cause autism (for which there isn’t one femtogram of evidence). She has penned a report that linked vaccines to autism because of DNA transfer from the vaccines to human cells, exhibiting all of the disreputable “false balance” type of reporting that seems to be commonplace in scientific journalism (and she is not even close to being scientific).

In that article, she claimed that human DNA in vaccines may incorporate themselves into human genes, express themselves, causing autism. This was based on research published by Helen Ratajczak in a low impact factor journal (63rd out of 85 journals in the field). Wow.

Dr. Ratajczak and her best buddy, Attkisson, seem to have no clue how hard it is to incorporate foreign DNA into the human genome. And they seemed to believe, with no evidence whatsoever, that the same exact DNA sequence exists is in all vaccines, and it somehow all incorporates that DNA sequence over and over through all of human cells. If it were this easy, gene therapy would be the hottest disease-fighting tool on the planet, because just get some healthy DNA, inject it into someone who has Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, voila, we’re done. Doctors and Big Pharma could sit in their big chairs, light up cigars, and celebrate how easy it is. Apparently, some other researchers thought this was bad science.

Read More »Vaccine deniers think the murder of Alex Spourdalakis is acceptable

Despite activities of vaccine refusers, nearly all kids immunized

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that most kindergartners in the United States received their recommended vaccines for measles and other diseases during the 2012-2013 school year. However, the CDC also mentioned concern about unvaccinated clusters of children that are at risk from vaccine preventable diseases, and may pose a health risk to the community at large.

Overall, 48 states and DC (as well as 8 US jurisdictions, including Guam, Puerto Rico and other territories) reported 2012-13 school vaccination coverage. Approximately 94.5% of kindergartners had received their complete MMR vaccinations, an insignificant drop from the 2011-12 level of 94.8%.  DTaP coverage was 95.1%, above Healthy People 2020 target of 95%. For the varicella vaccine, 93.8% of American kindergartners received both necessary doses.

Read More »Despite activities of vaccine refusers, nearly all kids immunized

“False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy

In the real world of science-based medicine, the link between autism and vaccines (particularly, the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella) has been thoroughly debunked, quashed, and discredited. In the delusional world of the vaccine denialists, the link between autism and vaccines is based on MrAndy Wakefield‘s paper alleging a connection between MMR and autism that has been retracted by the Lancet medical journal.

Then why is there even a debate about this manufactroversy (a manufactured or invented controversy)? Well, researchers actually examined this false controversy in a recently published article, by Graham Dixon and Christopher Clarke of Cornell University, in Health Education Research. They investigated how the news media and journalists try to “falsely balance” their reporting about the debunked link between vaccines and autism. The journalists create this false balance, “despite a strong medical and scientific consensus backed by rigorous epidemiological studies indicating no link between autism and vaccines.” Dixon and Clarke also state that “research suggests that journalists in the United Kingdom and United States often report this controversy by presenting claims both for and against a link in a relatively ‘balanced’ fashion. In some cases, so-called ‘falsely balanced’ reporting fails to mention which claim is supported by a scientific consensus.” An overwhelming scientific consensus, by the way.Read More »“False balanced” reporting of autism-vaccine manufactroversy

Consequences of not vaccinating–Report 3

Vaccines already savedIf you don’t follow the news out of Wales on a regular basis, then you might not know that that there is an epidemic of measles in that part of the UK. According to Public Health-Wales, there have been 886 cases of measles from 1 November 2012 through 22 April 2013. This compares to around 0-3 cases per year in the late 90’s and early 00’s. The numbers have slowly risen to peak at 159 cases in 2009. The slow increase in number of measles cases correlates with the drop in MMR vaccine uptake to around 89% by age 5, far below the 95% level that Public Health-Wales has established for MMR vaccinations.

Measles (also called rubeola, not to be confused with rubella, or German measles) is a respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. Measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. Measles is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person’s nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission), and is highly contagious—90% of people without immunity sharing living space with an infected person will catch it. There is no specific treatment for the disease.Read More »Consequences of not vaccinating–Report 3

Andrew Wakefield–you sir are a disgusting, vile excuse for a human being

mmr-lancet-stfrontpageA large outbreak (or epidemic) of measles has hit over 700 people in Wales over the past few weeks according to NHS Wales. And since there are 6000 children who are unvaccinated against measles in this area, the outbreak will continue to increase in size, since measles is a highly contagious disease. This type of epidemic should not be happening in a modern, advanced country like the UK.

Well, who or what is to blame for ? Well, according to a UK newspaper, The Telegraph, “what actually caused the drop in vaccination uptake which led to Swansea was the autism scare, started and repeatedly stoked by Wakefield, abetted (it must be admitted) by the media.” Yes, that MrAndy Wakefield whose fraudulent paper alleging a connection between MMR and autism which was retracted by the Lancet, is at fault here.Read More »Andrew Wakefield–you sir are a disgusting, vile excuse for a human being