Jenny McCarthy was once the MTV drunk college dating game hostess and former “journalist” on The View. I remember when she joined The View – there was widespread condemnation of her hiring from scientists, journalists, and yours truly because of her annoying anti-vaccine rhetoric. Clearly, no one of any note supported her being hired on the View, except for websites like the Age of Pushing Nonsense To Harm Children.Read More »Jenny McCarthy, with help from Oprah, misinforms about vaccines
This article about Dr. Robert Sears and his vaccine beliefs is by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.
Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a 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 diseases.
Dr. Robert Sears’ vaccine info is false and misleading. On January 16, 2015, Sears, who refers to himself as Dr. Bob, is a California pediatrician and author of a controversial book on vaccines (critiqued here, pdf, or here by the fine folks at Science-Based Medicine).
He wrote in his Dr. Bob’s Daily and published on his Facebook page that measles is only rarely fatal in developed countries and that serious complications are rare. (In the likely event that Dr. Sears decides to delete his misleading comments, it’s archived here permanently.)
And they were irresponsible. In a way that can put people – including children, including his patients – at serious risk. This is not the first time Dr. Bob Sears has made inaccurate claims about a vaccine-preventable disease, but in the background of the current measles outbreaks, the risk from his behavior is more imminent and more obvious. It is appropriate to react.Read More »Dr. Robert Sears vaccine info misleads parents about measles
Unless you’ve been living on an interplanetary spaceship lacking Earth news services, you probably are aware of a serious outbreak of measles at the Happiest Place on Earth, that is, Disneyland (in Anaheim, CA). The park hosts about 40-50 thousand people a day, the bulk of which are children and parents of children, so if there could be a ground zero for a vaccine preventable pathogen outbreak, Disneyland would be the almost perfect place.
According to the California Department of Public Health (as of 30 January 2015), there have been 91 measles cases statewide since the beginning of the new year, with 58 of those cases related (either primarily or through secondary or tertiary contact) to a visit to Disneyland. About a third of those positive for measles are over the age of 20, an unusual statistic (and more on that later).
Some of those infected may have carried the disease outside of the state, but those are being tracked by their home state, so it makes it a bit difficult to get an actual number, but the CDC is monitoring the situation and will give updates weekly. The total number of those who might have contracted measles from Disneyland could be as high as 70-90 individuals.
Unless you’re a serious science denier, who thinks that the measles vaccine is more dangerous than measles, we have ample evidence that the measles vaccines have just about eliminated measles, although an uptick in measles this year probably can be tied to the antivaccine crowd. We have boatloads of evidence that vaccines have prevented morbidity and mortality from measles. We don’t have to look back 100 years, we can look back 20 years–measles cases dropped from 55,000 in 1991 to 189 in 2013. This sudden drop happened because of the Vaccines for Children Program.
The measles vaccine, usually a part of the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella) or the MMRV vaccine (MMR plus varicella, also known as chickenpox), successfully prevents measles, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, similar to common cold. However, the initial symptoms are followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.
Many people think that measles is a minor disease, that’s because they weren’t around 30 years ago, when measles epidemics hit children in school. The CDC estimates that approximately 3 out of 10 adults or children who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea. The myth that measles is “nothing” is just that–a myth, lie and bad science.Read More »Hey vaccine deniers–a huge study says measles vaccines are safe
Despite what you think is happening when you read antivaccination blogs, most people in the developed world vaccinate their children. And in the relatively undeveloped world, they are demanding more vaccines so that their children will live longer. In the USA alone, far less than 1% of children, 19-35 months, are completely unvaccinated. The problem, at least in the USA, is that those unvaccinated children tend to be clustered in small geographical areas where individuals who share the typical characteristics of many vaccine deniers tend to live.
The complication is that the herd immunity can break down rather quickly when the vaccination uptake drops below 80-90% in these clusters. And all it takes is one person carrying a vaccine preventable disease from an area, where it is endemic, to then start an outbreak or epidemic very quickly in one of these low vaccine uptake clusters. For a disease like measles, which is very contagious, it jumps from an infected person to unvaccinated individuals quite rapidly, sometimes before public health authorities can contain it. Measles is easily prevented with the MMRV vaccine (which also protects children against mumps, rubella, and chickenpox).
In a recent article published in Pediatrics, researchers investigated a measles outbreak in Minnesota in 2011. The authors, lead by Pamala Gahr of the Minnesota Department of Health, determined that the outbreak began when an unvaccinated 2-year-old travelled to Kenya, where he contracted the measles virus. Upon returning to the United States, the child developed a fever, cough and vomiting, some of the early signs and symptoms of measles. Unfortunately, prior to a diagnosis of measles, the child passed the virus on to three children in a child day-care center and another household member. The measles then spread from individual to individual within a low vaccine uptake area, a Somali immigrant community in the Minneapolis area. Eventually, more than 3,000 people were exposed to the disease.Read More »One unvaccinated child was patient zero of a measles epidemic
This easy-to-read, easy-to-understand explanation in response to the antivaccination trope of “if your child is vaccinated, why are you worried about my unvaccinated kid.” It was published on the Facebook pro-vaccination page, Embarrassed Cousins of Proud Parents of Unvaccinated Children. And once… Read More »Hey antivaccine lunatics, here’s simple math about measles vaccination
This 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
There 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.