Risk of autism is NOT increased with “too many vaccines”

wakefieldThe myth of vaccines causing autism is based upon the fraudulent claims of Mr. Andy Wakefield, which caused the original article making said claims to be retracted by The Lancet. Despite this fraud, Wakefield’s acolytes, minions, and disciples in the vaccine denialist world continue to make the claim that vaccines cause autism. But there are over 250 studies that show that vaccines do not cause autism. And there is a boatload of evidence that the MMR vaccine, specifically mentioned in Wakefield’s original study, does not cause autism.

But one of the enduring myths of the vaccine denialist crowd is that it’s not just MMR vaccine that causes autism, but it’s the number of vaccines of all types that are given to children in a short period of time (pdf). Even though the best scientific evidence supports the hypothesis that vaccines do not cause autism, approximately one-third of parents continue to express concern that vaccines may cause autism, and nearly 1 in 10 parents refuse or delay vaccinations because they believe it is safer than following CDC vaccine schedule. Continue reading “Risk of autism is NOT increased with “too many vaccines””

CDC: 90 percent of children who died from flu not vaccinated

Learn about Who Needs A Flu Vaccine.http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm

The 2012-2013 flu season is beginning to wind down from a moderately severe season. Sadly, according to the CDC, 105 children died this season from the flu. And a preliminary review of the data by the CDC found that 90% of those children who died were not vaccinated for this season’s flu. In case that wasn’t clear, over 90 children died from influenza, a vaccine-preventable disease. 

This review by the CDC indicated that 60 percent of deaths occurred in children who were at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, but 40 percent of the children, who had died, had no recognized chronic health problems. The proportions of pediatric deaths occurring in children who were unvaccinated and those who had high-risk conditions are similar to what the CDC has observed in previous flu seasons.

Earlier this flu season, the CDC had strongly recommended that children get the flu vaccine, and those who had never been vaccinated for the flu before, get two doses of the vaccine. And despite the various myths about the flu vaccine, it is extremely effective, it will not give a child the flu, and it has an incredibly high safety profile

Many of us who discuss medicine know that every medical procedure involves a risk and a benefit. With the flu vaccine, there are few risks, and even those are minor. But the benefit is immense for children. Saving lives. And in my view of the world, saving even one life, one child, is worth it. Parents who don’t give the flu vaccine to their children put them at a small, but significant risk of severe complications to the flu, up to and including death. Maybe next year someone will read this article, and think, “I want to save my child’s life.” I can only hope.


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Religion vs Gardasil

gardasil.colorAlthough I rarely state it on these pages, I am an atheist. As a scientist, I’ve examined the evidence for a god (any god), and found it lacking. I think religion, especially in the USA, can be dangerous. Religious fundamentalism is behind the attack on teaching of real science, such as evolution and global warming. Although some may argue that trying to block the teaching of evolution, in favor of creationism, is innocuous (though absolutely unconstitutional), most would argue that since evolution is the basis of all biology (and therefore, medicine), it is harmful. 

It’s when fundamentalist religion gets involved in medicine, whether it’s therapeutic abortions, vaccines, or stem-cell research, that it’s clear that religion becomes dangerous to human lives. I just want to focus on one tiny corner of the medical world, where religious beliefs block good medicine–HPV vaccinations.

For those of you may be unfamiliar with the HPV vaccine, it prevents infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. The vaccine, known as Gardasil or Cervarix in the USA, specifically blocks HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18; HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, and cause most HPV-induced analvulvarvaginal, and penile cancers. Cervical cancer, which afflicts 12,000 additional women and causes over 4,000 deaths annually in the USA, is considered the “preventable gynecologic cancer” because of the HPV vaccines. Continue reading “Religion vs Gardasil”

Survey identifies reasons for not vaccinating teens

vacs-save-lives-003Vaccines are one of the most important and crucial aspects for the long-term health of babies and young children. Except for a tiny, and irresponsible, minority of individuals who are opposed to vaccinations, greater than 95% of children are fully vaccinated for most vaccine preventable diseases by kindergarten. Unfortunately, a recently published article in Pediatrics provided evidence that teens are not keeping up with vaccinations that are critical to avoid infections from serious, and deadly, diseases. The study examines how vaccination rates have changed over the three year study period, and some of the reasons why they are not getting vaccinated. Continue reading “Survey identifies reasons for not vaccinating teens”

I get an email about Gardasil

hpv posterI get lots of email about my articles that are published here. Sometimes, it’s about grammar or spelling (and the grammar KGB can be uncivil at times). Sometimes, it’s compliments or questions about what I’ve written. Rarely, they’re rude and usually include quite immature comments about the location of my head. However, I recently received an email that is more or less polite, but is filled with so many errors and logical fallacies, that I thought it should be critiqued publicly.

Here are my point-by-point comments about the email:

I stumbled across your blog and could not believe what I was reading about the safety of Gardasil.  As a mother of a Gardasil injured daughter, your profuse endorsement made me skeptical.  I want to begin by saying I am not anti-vaccine;  I am anti-Gardasil.  Continue reading “I get an email about Gardasil”

HPV–early vaccination maximizes effectiveness


HPV protesters in Texas.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus from the papillomavirus family that is capable of infecting humans. Like all papillomaviruses, HPVs establish productive infections only in keratinocytes of the skin or mucous membranes, making it easily transmitted sexually or through other intimate contact. While the majority of the known types of HPV cause no symptoms in most people, some types can cause warts (verrucae). HPV types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, and cause most HPV-induced anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers. The HPV quadrivalent vaccine, also known as Gardasil (or Silgard in Europe), is marketed by Merck. The vaccine prevents the transmission of certain types of HPV, specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18

Although the safety of HPV vaccine has been thoroughly vetted for safety in studies with large cohorts, the long time period (up to decades) from infection to a diagnosis of an HPV-related cancer has left questions about how to maximize effectiveness of the vaccine which required further research.  Continue reading “HPV–early vaccination maximizes effectiveness”

Waning whooping cough immunity after DTaP–a new analysis

Protect Your Baby from Whooping Cough.

Despite the fact that over 95% of kindergarteners in the United States are properly vaccinated against whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) with the DTaP vaccine, there are persistent reports that the rates of whooping cough have risen during the past few years. Several outbreaks, along with an outright epidemic in Washington state, seemed to indicate that the vaccine’s effectiveness is waning faster than expected.

A recently published study in Pediatrics evaluates reports of increased rates of pertussis in the six years after receipt of the fifth (of five) DTaP doses. These reports suggest that waning of immunity to pertussis from DTaP is occurring before the recommended booster age of 11 to 12 years. The researchers tracked more than 400,000 Minnesota and Oregon children using immunization records and state health department whooping cough data. All of those children were born between 1998 and 2003 and received the recommended series of five DTaP shots, the final one usually given at 4-6 years old. Continue reading “Waning whooping cough immunity after DTaP–a new analysis”

Arizona may allow foster parents vaccine exemptions

the-anti-vaccine-epidemicAccording to a recent article in the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee has cleared a bill, SB 1108, that would allow parents, whose children aren’t fully immunized, an exemption to still get licensed to be allowed to care for foster children. There is an identical bill in the Arizona House, HB 2348, that is being heard in the House Reform and Human Services Committee.

Both proposed laws would eliminate any liability for the foster parents.

But wait! What would happen if these foster parents’ non-immunized children infected foster children who were not properly immunized? Or babies who are too young to be vaccinated, and who are protected from diseases like pertussis through cocooning, which is the strategy of protecting the baby from these diseases by vaccinating those individuals who are in close contact with them.

Am I missing something? Are we putting innocent children, those who are placed in the foster care system because of any number of problems, almost always not of their own fault, in harm’s way just to placate the antivaccination true believers? Even those parents whose children are exempt from vaccination for medical reasons do not have some inalienable right to caring for foster children, no matter how wonderful of parents they may be. I am empathetic to these parents who cannot vaccinate their children because of some medical reason (which is very rare), and who are willing to be foster parents, but why risk passing a disease to the foster child?

As I’ve said before, philosophical exemptions should be ended, they are being abused by individuals who are clueless about what vaccines do or don’t do. Religious exemptions should be ended, since there are but a handful of mainstream religions that are opposed to vaccinations. Vaccine exemptions are merely a method for vaccine denialists to get their way to not vaccinate their children using their misguided anti-science beliefs, and in the case of this law in Arizona, potentially harming innocent foster children.

Well, Arizona seems to love crazy laws.

Vaccines Save Lives.

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Tamiflu-does it work

According to the CDC, this year’s flu season is pretty serious in the USA. Current data, shows that about 4.6% of patient visits to health care providers are for influenza like illnesses (ILI). Thirty states and New York City are now reporting high ILI activity; an increase from 24 states last week. Additionally, 10 states are reporting moderate levels of ILI activity. Forty-eight states reported widespread geographic influenza activity for the week of January 6-12, 2013. This increased from 47 states in the previous week. 



Although there has been a slight drop-off in ILI visits over the past couple of weeks since the peak in early January, the CDC continues to identify this season as a “moderately severe” one, and supplies in some areas have tight supplies of the flu vaccine.  Continue reading “Tamiflu-does it work”