Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit

vaccine policy

This post is a preprint of an article to be published in Vaccine entitled “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality.” The authors are Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Ph.D., Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), and Paul A. Offit, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Disease, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Perelman School at the University of Pennsylvania.

This article’s full citation is:

Reiss DR, Offit PA. Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality. Vaccine. 2020 February 5. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.01.036.

This preprint (see Note 1) is being published here, with permission from Professors Reiss and Offit, as a public service because it is an important part of the discussion on vaccine policy. Continue reading “Improving Vaccine Policy Making: A Dose of Reality – Dorit R Reiss and Paul A Offit”

Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil scientist’s actual HPV vaccine research

Diane Harper

Anti-vaxxers love their false authorities, such as the infamous Tetyana Obukhanych. They also love to invoke Dr. Diane Harper as the authority of choice with regard to HPV vaccines. Obukhanych is truly a false authority, but Dr. Harper is much more complicated.

Because vaccine deniers lack any scientific evidence supporting their unfounded beliefs about vaccines, they tend to rely upon unscientific information like anecdotes, logical fallacies, misinterpretation of data, or false authorities to support their case about the lack of safety of vaccines.

The so-called “lead Gardasil researcher,” Dr. Diane Harper, a former “consultant” to Merck and GSK, had some responsibilities in the clinical trials for their HPV vaccines. But the claims about whether Dr. Harper supports or dislikes those vaccines are substantially more complicated than what the anti-vaccine zealots would like to claim about her.

Amusingly, every few months the social media haunts of the anti-vaccine crowd explode with claims that Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil researcher, hates HPV vaccines.

Let’s take a look at the story and see what we find.

Continue reading “Dr. Diane Harper, lead Gardasil scientist’s actual HPV vaccine research”

Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy

Gardasil safety and efficacy

The HPV cancer-preventing vaccine, especially Gardasil (or Silgard, depending on market), has been targeted by the anti-vaccine religion more than just about any other vaccine being used these days. So many people tell me that they give their children all the vaccines, but refuse to give them the HPV vaccine based on rumor and innuendo on the internet. This article provides all the posts I’ve written about Gardasil’s safety and efficacy.

As many regular readers know, I focus on just a few topics in medicine, with my two favorites being vaccines and cancer – of course, the Gardasil cancer-preventing vaccine combines my two favorite topics. Here’s one thing that has become clear to me – there are no magical cancer prevention schemes. You are not going to prevent any of the 200 different cancers by drinking a banana-kale-quinoa smoothie every day. The best ways to prevent cancer are to quit smoking, stay out of the sun, keep active and thin, get your cancer-preventing vaccines, and following just a few more recommendations.

The benefits of the vaccine are often overlooked as a result of two possible factors – first, there’s a disconnect between personal activities today and cancer that could be diagnosed 20-30 years from now; and second, people think that there are significant dangers from the vaccine which are promulgated by the anti-vaccine religion.

It’s frustrating and difficult to explain Gardasil’s safety and efficacy as a result of the myths about the safety and long-term efficacy of the vaccine. That’s why I have written nearly 200 articles about Gardasil safety and efficacy, along with debunking some ridiculous myths about the cancer-preventing vaccine. This article serves to be a quick source with links to most of those 200 articles.

And if you read nothing else in this review of Gardasil, read the section entitled “Gardasil safety and effectiveness – a quick primer” – that will link you to two quick to read articles that summarize the best evidence in support of the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

Continue reading “Gardasil facts – debunking myths about HPV vaccine safety and efficacy”

Gardasil 9 safety – more published evidence supporting the HPV vaccine

Gardasil 9 safety

Two new articles (plus an editorial) published in Pediatrics reinforce the evidence supporting Gardasil 9 safety. I have been writing about the safety of the cancer-preventing HPV vaccines for years, and it’s clear that it’s settled science.

Of course, I’m here to review any new articles about Gardasil 9 safety, because the evidence supporting it has become overwhelming. Nevertheless, HPV vaccine uptake has remained stubbornly low, around 49% in the USA as of 2017. 

Let’s start with a quick review of HPV and HPV vaccines. Continue reading “Gardasil 9 safety – more published evidence supporting the HPV vaccine”

Lyme disease vaccine in clinical trials – good news for everyone

lyme disease vaccine

Even though dogs have access to a Lyme disease vaccine, there has not been a vaccine available for humans for 18 years. But that’s about to change, considering how much the tick responsible for the disease has spread.

Just to be clear, vaccine manufacturers do not value dogs more than humans for a Lyme disease vaccine. In reality, the blame for why there isn’t a Lyme disease vaccine can be placed right where some of you expect it to be – loud-mouthed, misinformed anti-vaccine zealots who lacked any scientific evidence supporting their claims.

Of course, the issues with the original Lyme disease vaccine happened in the mid-1990s, and the internet was in its infancy (hello AltaVista). But there were people pushing the same narrative that we hear about the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine – they claimed, without any scientific evidence, that the Lyme disease vaccine was actually worse than the disease itself.

That certainly sounds familiar!

But a new Lyme disease vaccine might be on its way fairly soon. That means adults and children can run in the grass, go hiking, and generally enjoy the outdoors without worrying about this debilitating disease.

Continue reading “Lyme disease vaccine in clinical trials – good news for everyone”

Too many vaccines – debunking another unscientific anti-vaxxer myth

too many vaccines

Each day, I have plans to write about something other than another anti-vaccine myth, like we give our kids too many vaccines. But like Al Pacino said in The Godfather, “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” Now I get pulled into another anti-vaxxer myth.

Unfortunately, my wonderful, well-researched, 15,000-word article about the existence of Sasquatch will have to wait for another day. Yes, it makes me sad. 

Seriously, the “too many vaccines” trope pushed by the anti-vaccine religion is one of the most annoying in the discussions about vaccines. Their bogus claim is that we give children too many vaccines too early in life, and that causes all kinds of harm.

Per usual, the anti-vaccine zealots lack any robust scientific evidence supporting their claims, but you know those people – there’s no trope, myth, or meme that they won’t employ, irrespective of evidence, to push lies about vaccines.

So let’s take a look at this old anti-vaccine myth of too many vaccines in light of a recently published, powerful study that provides more evidence that this particular myth doesn’t hold any water. Continue reading “Too many vaccines – debunking another unscientific anti-vaxxer myth”

HPV vaccine facts – refuting RFK Jr’s false and unscientific claims – Part 2

HPV vaccine facts

Recently,  I wrote a post about Robert F Kennedy Jr’s 25 false claims that stood against HPV vaccine facts and science – because that’s what the anti-vaccine crowd does well. 

As I mentioned, he has recently become a loudmouth anti-vaccine acolyte, who has been chastised by his own family for helping “to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”

Because there were 25 lies in RFK Jr’s article, I just covered the first 12 in a previous post. Now I will take on the remaining 13 by reiterating HPV vaccine facts. Continue reading “HPV vaccine facts – refuting RFK Jr’s false and unscientific claims – Part 2”

Anti-vaccine terrorists – maybe it is the time to call them that

anti-vaccine terrorists

In a recent article in Without a Crystal Ball on Patheos, Katie Joy, an anti-pseudoscience writer after my own heart, laid out a powerful case to label vaccine deniers as anti-vaccine terrorists. I think I’m on board. I know, it’s tough but deserving.

Katie wrote:

Fringe conspiracy-theorist terrorists, called ‘anti-vaxxers’ are multiplying so fast that some counties, cities, and states have vaccination rates below community or ‘herd’ immunity levels across the U.S. With more parents buying into the  conspiracy that vaccines contain toxins, cause autism, and are unsafe, children, the elderly, and immunocompromised are suffering. These people need to be called out for what they are; anti-vaxxers are terrorists that kill and harm our children.

Even if you oppose anti-vaxxers, you might think it’s too extreme to use the “terrorist” label in this case. I do not. Though there is no single agreed-upon definition of terrorism, most agree that it consists of using fear as a tool to achieve political or social change while disregarding harm done to others in the process. I think anti-vaxxers meet every part of that definition.

After giving it much thought, I think I’m going to have to change my description of these nutjobs from anti-vaccine religious extremists to anti-vaccine terrorists. Maybe it’s harsh. But it’s deserving.

I want to make a case for this “anti-vaccine terrorists” label. Maybe you’ll agree, or maybe you’ll think I’m over-the-top, even if you’re pro-science. But these vaccine deniers are putting children at risk of harm, it’s becoming difficult for me to excuse their lies and misinformation.  Continue reading “Anti-vaccine terrorists – maybe it is the time to call them that”

Vaccine adverse events are rare – vast benefits outweigh small risks

vaccine adverse events

Like all medical procedures, devices, and pharmaceuticals, vaccines are not perfect – there are rare vaccine adverse events. What matters is that the benefits, not only medically but also economically, outweigh any risks. As far ask I know, no perfect medical procedures, devices or pharmaceuticals, none, that are perfectly safe or perfectly effective. Sometimes the ratio is small. For example, there are chemotherapy drugs that only add a few months to a patient’s life, usually with substantial side effects to the medication.

Yet, if you ask a patient whether it was worth it, to spend just a few extra months with their children and loved ones, the value becomes nearly incalculable. But mostly, the FDA and other regulatory agencies demand that new products and procedures must meet or exceed the safety, and meet or exceed the financial and health benefits of currently acceptable versions. Actually, the FDA examines a lot more than that. They check the packaging, shelf life, instructions, manufacturing practices, and so much more, it would take a book to explain it (and there probably are several). It may not be a perfect process, but it’s better than what we had 100 years ago, and it continues to improve every single day. People tend towards a form of confirmation bias where they remember where a drug may or may not have been found to be dangerous (best example is Vioxx).

But they forget about the millions of medications and devices that save lives or measurably improve the standard of living.  Continue reading “Vaccine adverse events are rare – vast benefits outweigh small risks”

Another study supports the Gardasil long-term safety

Gardasil long-term safety

I’ve written more than almost 200 articles about the safety and effectiveness of various versions of the HPV vaccine. As a result, I have focused a lot of those 200 articles on Gardasil long-term safety.

There have been huge studies, one that includes over 200,000 patients and another that includes over 1 million patients, that have provided solid and nearly incontrovertible evidence that support the Gardasil long-term safety – nevertheless, the anti-vaccine tropes and memes about the HPV cancer-preventing vaccine persist.

Though it is frustrating that some researchers publish “evidence” from small studies that are poorly designed in an attempt to invent issues with HPV vaccines if you look at the best designed unbiased studies, the facts are clear–Gardasil is safe and effective. It could be one of the safest and most effective vaccines since it was developed and studied in the era of harsh, and mostly unfounded, criticisms of vaccines by certain antivaccine activists.

Continue reading “Another study supports the Gardasil long-term safety”