Testing vaccines for cancer – another anti-vaxxer myth with no credibility

testing vaccines

If you’re spending more than a nanosecond reading idiotic memes from the anti-vaccine religion, I’m sure you’d see the old the package insert says that FDA doesn’t require testing vaccines to determine whether they cause cancer or not. It still makes me laugh how much authority the anti-vaxxers give to package inserts, but that’s another story for another day.

Oh wait, it is another story that I told. You know, the old argument by vaccine package insert fallacy. It’s a fun one, it’s helpful in dismissing the bogus claims that the anti-vaxxers make using package inserts.

Like all zombie memes from the vaccine deniers, this one keeps disappearing then returning every few months. And now with the current measles epidemic in the US and other areas, it’s arisen from the graveyard of debunked vaccine myths to haunt the internet. 

And it’s time to debunk it once again. Continue reading “Testing vaccines for cancer – another anti-vaxxer myth with no credibility”

Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible

vaccine package inserts

One of the cherished strategies of the anti-vaccine religion is to quote vaccine package inserts (called a Patient Information Leaflet in EU countries and Instructions for Use in other areas) to “prove” that vaccines are dangerous. These vaccine deniers consider the package insert to be the golden tablets of the Truth™.

Yes, it is cynical that these anti-vaccine groupies rail against Big Pharma as if they are demon reptilians, but the package insert, written by Big Pharma, is considered gospel. And there is another broken irony meter.

Just spend more than a couple of minutes in discussion in any vaccine “debate,” and you’ll eventually get someone pointing to a section in any of the many vaccine package inserts (PI) as “proof” that it is dangerous, contains dangerous stuff, or is just plain scary. Or that it doesn’t work.

The snarky Orac has proclaimed it “Argument by Package Insert” – it’s almost at the level of logical fallacy. David Gorski has just given it the Latin name, argumentum ad package insert, so it’s now officially a logical fallacy, at least for vaccine discussions.

Before we start, vaccine package inserts are important documents, but only if the information included therein is properly understood. However, vaccine package inserts are not documents that serve as medical and scientific gospel. But it is a document that can help clinicians use vaccines (or frankly, any medication) properly. Continue reading “Argument by Vaccine Package Inserts – they’re not infallible”

Anti-vaccine arguments that don’t convince pro-science humans

anti-vaccine arguments

There are so many annoying anti-vaccine arguments that make me laugh and cause my rational brain to explode. The anti-vaccine religious acolytes don’t understand one basic thing – we scientists would accept their claims if they presented actual scientific evidence. They haven’t.

Most scientists and skeptics are open-minded to new ideas and evidence. Yes, they may be resistant, especially if the evidence is preliminary. I was in graduate school during the early 1980s when Luis and Walter Alvarez proposed that the mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs and about 99.99% of life on Earth during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event was caused by a huge bolide impact.

When they first proposed it, scientists laughed. Today, it is widely accepted as a scientific fact. But it was accepted because of powerful evidence that kept supporting the original hypothesis, not because of “beliefs.” Being “openminded” doesn’t mean that we accept any silly claim made by random people – it means being openminded to reviewing the evidence, then,  determining if that evidence supports the claims being made.

The anti-vaccine religion screams and yells to push their lies about vaccines because they don’t have evidence. It gets tiresome, and some of us just laugh when we hear it. Yesterday, for example, I wrote about how the anti-vaccine pseudoscientist, Christopher Exley, was banned from receiving funding because his research is both incompetent and false. Yet, the anti-vaccine crowd whined that some nefarious Big Pharma conspiracy was keeping Exley from his money. 

So I’m going to be a nice old carnivorous dinosaur (remember, birds are dinosaurs) and give advice to the anti-vaxxers – I’m going to list the anti-vaccine arguments that aren’t scientific and are worthless. If you want to convince those of us who value science, don’t use these anti-vaccine arguments. Continue reading “Anti-vaccine arguments that don’t convince pro-science humans”

Informed consent, vaccines and package inserts – examining the facts

informed consent

Informed consent is important. For vaccines, as it is for all other medical treatments. But there appears to be some misunderstandings about what constitutes informed consent in this context.

This article addresses a few misconceptions that come up in relation to informed consent, for example, that doctors need to give inserts, or a list of vaccine ingredients, to get informed consent for vaccines, or discuss VAERS and VICP (I’ve addressed some of it in the past ). It does not address the claim that mandates violate informed consent or that liability protections do – I have also addressed both in the past. Continue reading “Informed consent, vaccines and package inserts – examining the facts”

HPV vaccine propaganda – anti-vaxxers get it all wrong again

HPV vaccine propaganda

Although I don’t have official evidence, I think that anti-HPV vaccine propaganda is a special subset of the anti-vaccine disinformation effort. I think that the most outrageous claims about vaccines are often made about HPV anti-cancer vaccine.

But the anti-HPV vaccine propaganda hit a whole new high (no, wait, it’s a low) when an anti-vaccine group on Facebook produced what they claim is an “accurate” HPV vaccine commercial.

I couldn’t let this disinformation about a cancer prevention vaccine pass. So here we go. Continue reading “HPV vaccine propaganda – anti-vaxxers get it all wrong again”

Reports of vaccine related effects can be useful

 

©KenRockwell.com, 2007. Photographer's son actually receiving RotaTeq vaccine and giving a smile to Paul Offit for keeping him from ever getting a rotavirus infection.
©KenRockwell.com, 2007. Photographer’s son actually receiving RotaTeq vaccine and giving a smile to Paul Offit for keeping him from ever getting a rotavirus infection.

Vaccine deniers, especially in the USA, use the passive data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a system where individuals can report supposed adverse events post-vaccination, to “prove” certain adverse events. The data is considered to be “passive” because the individual reports can be made online, by fax or by mail–real causal events may be underreported and hyped, imaginary issues with no causality, can be over-reported. However, without medical investigations of causality between the vaccination and the claimed adverse events that are reported to the VAERS database, the data have no real value.

Frankly, VAERS can be gamed by those with nefarious intentions. In reality, VAERS is a feel-good system for those who think that there’s a link between vaccines and something terrible, but without an active investigation, the data is just above the level of being totally meaningless. Most epidemiologists know it is valueless. Even the VAERS system itself says that the data cannot be used to ascertain the difference between coincidence and true causality.

Furthermore, there is a background rate for mortality (death) or morbidity (abnormal medical condition), across all causes, irrespective of whether an individual is vaccinated or not, and unless you understand the background rate, the vaccine “mortality” rate has no scientific meaning. In fact, we could provide data that shows anything might cause any adverse medical event, like playing video games leads to prostate cancer, but we would have no evidence of any type of causality whatsoever. Continue reading “Reports of vaccine related effects can be useful”