Herpes zoster vaccine and dementia — is there a surprising link?

herpes zoster dementia

I generally wouldn’t write about herpes zoster and dementia, which recently appeared in a peer-reviewed article. Such a topic is mostly outside of my interest area. Then a thought hit my reptilian brain — anti-vaxxers might use this information to claim that the shingles vaccine, which prevents herpes zoster (the more formal name for shingles), might increase the risk of dementia.

So, this article is here just in case you run into that pathetic argument. In no way would I advocate not getting the shingles vaccine because of its supposed relationship with dementia.

Let’s take a look at this new article and how we should look at whether the herpes zoster vaccine and dementia might be related.

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Monkeypox myths — debunking anti-vaccine claims about the virus

monkeypox myths

Within nanoseconds of monkeypox hitting the news, the anti-vaccine activists were pushing myths in force employing their unique brand of conspiracy theories and bad science. Like they did with COVID-19 vaccines, the anti-vaxxers have jumped on monkeypox with all kinds of crackpot ideas and myths that deserve debunking.

As is my policy, I’m not going to point you to any of the crazy websites with these monkeypox myths — I’m not going to send them any traffic. I’m sure I’m missing some good ones, but here’s what I’ve seen.

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Increased risk of shingles after COVID-19 — time to get both vaccines

shingles COVID-19

A newly published and peer-reviewed study provides evidence that the risk of shingles (herpes zoster) increases after a COVID-19 infection. This supports numerous case reports that have been published that describe shingles in COVID-19 patients.

This post will examine the article. And this should provide you with more evidence that the COVID-19 and shingles vaccines are important to your health.

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Vaccine safety – a huge systematic review says they don’t cause autism

vaccine safety

Not that most of us need to be convinced, but there’s another huge systematic review that examined vaccine safety. Unsurprisingly, it shows that there are no major safety signals post-vaccination, plus no vaccine is linked to autism.

It’s ironic that this study is a high-quality systematic review and meta-analysis, the top of the hierarchy of biomedical research, while anti-vaxxers rely upon retracted articles published in predatory journals.

So, I want to do a quick review of this new article so that we can continue to support the settled science of vaccine safety.

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MSG in vaccines – is it another evil chemical causing harm or not?

There are so many random claims from the anti-vaccine activists about evil chemicals in your child’s vaccines. Aluminum in vaccines is dangerous? No. Mercury in vaccines? No. Formaldehyde in vaccines is killing our kids? Nope. And of course, MSG in vaccines is causing something. 

Of course, many of you have heard about MSG in our food. It’s up there on the evil food chemical list along with aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, GMO‘s, and whatever else is the food danger of the day. But MSG certainly has been on the top of the “avoid” list for decades.

I’ve been refuting nonsense about chemicals for at least 25 years on the internet (back before we had social media, yeah I’m an old dinosaur). From my perspective, I think that 50% of the issues with “chemicals” is their long complex names. And the other 50% is because of the appeal to nature logical fallacy, which is the argument that natural substances are somehow superior to “chemicals.” 

Ironically, everything in nature is a chemical, and unless you think everything in the universe is designed for human health (ridiculous), a “natural” chemical is not even close to being superior to a “man-made” chemical. 

But let’s get back to MSG – how many times have you seen “No MSG” in a sign Chinese restaurant? So if we don’t want to put MSG in our kung pao chicken, then why would we want MSG in vaccines? 

What we’re going to show in this article is that MSG dangers are a myth. And the dangers of MSG in vaccines is a bigger myth. 

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Chickenpox and shingles – same virus, different vaccines

chickenpox and shingles

There are a lot of nuanced facts and evidence about vaccines. The so-called “pro-vaccine” crowd looks at the body of evidence, then concludes that it saves children’s lives by stopping vaccine-preventable diseases. The “anti-vaccine” side seems to rely on anecdotes, cherry picking bad studies published in really bad journals, and read anti-science websites, just to support their preconceived conclusions. And now there is a lot of junk science with respect to chickenpox and shingles, much of which we need to refute and debunk.

One of the enduring myths of the antivaccine cult is that chickenpox vaccine will increase the rate of shingles, especially in older adults. A published article examines chickenpox and shingles vaccines – and like everything in science, it’s the nuanced data that makes the story. Not the headlines.

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Shingles increase heart attacks – time for the vaccine

Shingles increase heart attacks

Shingles, a reactivated form of the chickenpox virus, is a painful rash that afflicts many people decades after the initial chickenpox infection. Now, we have data that shingles increase heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and strokes. This is more evidence that we need to end chickenpox with the chickenpox vaccine, and reduce the risk of shingles in those who have had chickenpox with the shingles vaccine.

Let’s take a look at shingles and this new study. Continue reading “Shingles increase heart attacks – time for the vaccine”

Merck shingles vaccine lawsuit – what are the facts?

Merck shingles vaccine lawsuit

In 2016, a Merck shingles vaccine lawsuit was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia claiming that the plaintiff was injured by the Merck’s shingles vaccine. Since the shingles vaccine is not administered to children, it’s not covered by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act. Injury claims, therefore, do not go through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) before going to court.

That is a mixed bag for plaintiffs: on one hand, they can go directly to state courts, something anti-vaccine activists clamor for in relation to all suits.  On the other hand, they need to meet the more demanding requirements of regular courts, including showing that there was fault on the part of the manufacturer with one of the tools lawyers use to sue product manufacturers, meet the more demanding causation requirements that govern the process in state courts, and follow the rules of evidence in those courts.

To remind readers, in NVICP, a petitioner (as they are referred to, while claimants in state courts are “plaintiffs”) would only need to show that the vaccine caused their harm, and their damages, and pretty much any evidence is allowed, though the Special Masters may give unreliable evidence little weight. This Merck shingles vaccine lawsuit can suggest what these claims would have to demonstrate if they actually had to go to regular courts. Continue reading “Merck shingles vaccine lawsuit – what are the facts?”

Chickenpox prevents glioma – not a reason to avoid the vaccine

chickenpox prevents glioma

Anti-vaccine activists tend to grab onto any story that supports their narratives about vaccines. Generally, they comb the internet for any article that either tells us that vaccines don’t work, that they’re dangerous, or that the disease prevented is innocuous. It’s a frustrating process. Recently, an article was published that seemed to indicate chickenpox prevents glioma, a rare group of cancers that arise in the brain or spine. Then, by extension, some have claimed that not being vaccinated against chickenpox helps prevent glioma.

But is this valid? What does the evidence say about chickenpox and glioma? Is it even plausible that chickenpox has some biological relationship to glioma?

As always, answers aren’t as simple as the anti-vaccine group would like them to be. It’s complicated, as most science is.

 

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Adult vaccines – the CDC wants to save adult lives too

adult vaccines

Generally, when I write about vaccines, it’s about protecting children’s lives from vaccine preventable diseases. That itself is a noble goal for vaccines. But in case you didn’t know, there is also a CDC schedule for adult vaccines, which is as important to adults as they are to children.

Vaccines have one purpose – to protect us and those whom we love from potentially deadly and debilitating diseases. Many of us in the blogosphere have talked about the children’s schedule a lot, often to debunk claims of people who are ignorant of science, and think that the children’s vaccine schedule is causing undue harm. Yeah our intellectually deficient president, Donald Trump, thinks he knows more than the CDC, but that’s a problem shared by many vaccine deniers.

One adult vaccine I push regularly is the flu vaccine. It protects adults, pregnant women, the elderly, children, and healthy young adults from a severe infection that hospitalizes and kills more people every year than you’d think. Because flu is not really a serious disease, in some people’s minds, a lot of people decide that they don’t need the vaccine. They’d be wrong.

Just in case you were wondering, there is more to adult vaccines than just flu vaccines. There are several other vaccines indicated for adult use, including those adults with underlying health issues like diabetes, HIV and heart disease – unfortunately, the uptake for adult vaccines is depressingly low. Let’s take at the low uptake and the recommended adult vaccines schedule.

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