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vaccines COVID strokes

The bivalent COVID vaccines are not linked to strokes

The anti-vaccine world has jumped on some safety signals that seem to indicate that the bivalent COVID vaccines are linked to strokes. This group has shown how it misuses preliminary data to try to make false claims about every vaccine, especially the COVID-19 vaccines. This leads to false claims about these vaccines.

This post is going to examine what was found on VAERS, what is a safety signal, and what the FDA and CDC did to determine that there was no link between the bivalent COVID-19 vaccines and stroke. Even though this link has been dismissed, you just know that the anti-vaccine world will push it for the next few months.

Read More »The bivalent COVID vaccines are not linked to strokes
COVID-19 vaccine cancer

Joe Mercola falsely claims COVID vaccine boosters cause cancer

On Robert F Kennedy Jr’s awful website, The Defender, the quack Joe Mercola writes that the COVID-19 vaccine boosters cause cancer. Seriously, he wrote that.

The article is filled with a metric tonne of false claims, but I want to just focus on cancer since that’s the basic claim made by Mercola. If I spent all of my typing skills writing a 25,000-word post about every false claim made by this quack, I would be exhausted.

So, let me get to it.

Read More »Joe Mercola falsely claims COVID vaccine boosters cause cancer
ICAN V-Safe

ICAN misuses v-safe data to mislead about COVID-19 vaccines

This article, about how ICAN misuses v-safe data, was written 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), an anti-vaccine organization, has claimed that V-Safe data that it obtained access to shows COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe. ICAN misrepresented CDC’s obligations about v-safe data and its treatment of it and is making claims that, at best, overstate what v-safe shows – while ignoring the extensive evidence from all around the world on COVID-19 vaccines.

This post may come across as a bit cranky, and it likely is. This is Yom Kippur, I am fasting, and this is not how I wanted to spend my fast evening. But countering anti-vaccine misinformation that can harm and kill people is important, I already did the groundwork – I was thinking of writing about the earlier press release from ICAN – so here goes.

Read More »ICAN misuses v-safe data to mislead about COVID-19 vaccines
VAERS facts

VAERS facts — contradicting anti-vaccine claims and beliefs

This article about VAERS facts, literally a FAQ, was written 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 vaccination’s social and legal policies. 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. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Some of the new generation of anti-vaccine activists appear to have built their careers on misrepresentation of VAERS. One example is Dr. Jessica Rose, who apparently started her career as a legitimate young scientist, but at some point became a devoted anti-vaccine activist. Dr. Rose’s background is described by Orac thus:

Her background is more in the sort of computational biology that looks at protein structures and bioinformatics related to DNA sequences than it is to the sort of mathematical and statistical skill set necessary to delve into VAERS with any credibility. A perusal of her curriculum vitae, which is included on the profile, confirms my assessment, particularly her publication record, which includes a lot of molecular biology and virology, but nothing in the way of epidemiology.

In 2021, Dr. Rose joined the anti-vaccine organization IPAK as a research fellow, and she has published several papers in IPAK’s own publication, named Science, Public Health Policy, and the Law, whose editorial board is comprised of leading anti-vaccine activists.

Dr. Rose’s specialty appears to be doing bad analyses of VAERS and claiming, based on them, that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.

On August 9, 2022, Dr. Rose published a “Question and Answer” “facts” about VAERS, titled “A question and answer document on the subject of VAERS as a pharmacovigilance tool”. It is highly misleading. But it gave me an opportunity to provide information based on actual facts about VAERS.

If you want to see how it’s misleading, jump ahead to question 3 (and I hope you then go back and read the long discussion in questions 1 and 2).

I will repeat each question, answer it, shortly summarize Dr. Rose’s claims, and explain why they are misleading. Note that this discussion is limited to the mRNA vaccines and the J&J vaccine, which are the ones used in the United States and subject to reporting to VAERS – Novavax is newer and is not the subject of most of the misinformation from the anti-vaccine activists misleading people about VAERS. 

Read More »VAERS facts — contradicting anti-vaccine claims and beliefs
Guillaine-Barré COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

The risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after COVID mRNA vaccines is low

I keep reading anti-vaccine commentary that Guillain-Barré syndrome had been linked to the COVID-19 vaccines according to a deep dive into the VAERS database. Those of you who read my works know that I am apt to dismiss almost any claim that is based on VAERS. it is not built to show correlation let alone causation between Guillain-Barré syndrome and COVID-19 vaccines.

However, as I have said before VAERS can send a safety signal that should be investigated more thoroughly. And that’s what a vaccine research team did — they went to a better vaccine safety database and performed a thorough study. And what they found is that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, were not linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome. However, they did find a link to the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine, which confirms what was being discussed a few months ago.

Let’s take a look at this study so that we can at least partially debunk anti-COVID-19 vaccine claims.

Read More »The risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after COVID mRNA vaccines is low
anti-vaccine

Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo

A few days ago, some anti-vaxxer on Twitter complained that she didn’t want to be called anti-vaccine. She said it was a personal attack on her. And that she really wasn’t anti-vaccine.

Well, that’s just an incredibly laughable position that is unsupported by anything in reality. These anti-vaccine activists want to appear rational, thoughtful, and scientific, when, in fact, their position is anything but rational, thoughtful, or scientific.

We call someone anti-vaccine because they refuse to accept the vast scientific consensus about every vaccine on the market. No matter how many times we talk about a large, well-analyzed, unbiased study about a vaccine, they ignore it, and then they give preference to anecdotes and false authorities that confirm their pre-ordained conclusions about vaccines.

Now, just to be clear, parents who sit on the fence because they are confused about vaccines are not anti-vaxxers. They aren’t promoting anti-vaccine nonsense, they are trying to find good evidence to support getting vaccinated. I try to target this group lately because they seem to be working in good faith about vaccines. I’ve had numerous people over time that information I’ve prevented has moved them from “vaccine-hesitant” to pro-vaccine. That’s my mitzvah.

I’m going to write about true anti-vaxxers who present bad information about vaccines while complaining that they are being characterized as “anti-vaccine.” They deserve the label, and I’ll show you why.

Read More »Anti-vaxxers don’t want to be called “anti-vaccine” — boo frickin’ hoo
premature ovarian failure

Premature ovarian failure and HPV vaccine — bad anti-vax “research”

Let me start right from the top — no link has been found between the HPV vaccine and premature ovarian failure. But that didn’t stop some “researchers” from dumpster-diving into the VAERS database to try to establish a link between the HPV vaccine and premature ovarian failure.

Since I enjoy doing this, I am going to review this paper and tell you, once again, why good vaccine research should never rely upon VAERS.

Read More »Premature ovarian failure and HPV vaccine — bad anti-vax “research”
VAERS

VAERS once more with science — how to use it and how to abuse it

I have written numerous times about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) because it is the database of choice for the anti-vaccine world to “prove” that a vaccine is dangerous. It is misused even though it does not tell scientists whether a vaccine is harmless or harmful.

Even though I’ve discussed it many times, I’ve usually critiqued VAERS here and there in different ways, so I wanted to write down, in easy-to-consume, bullet points. I love bullet points since if you have a limited amount of time to read through thousands of words, you can find the information you need easily.

So here we go, let’s take a look at the dumpster-diving into the VAERS database.

Read More »VAERS once more with science — how to use it and how to abuse it
VAERS causation

VAERS does not show causation between vaccines and adverse events

Anti-vaxxers love to use the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) to make claims about causation between vaccines and some (or all) adverse events. They have doubled down on dumpster diving into VAERS during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing outright falsehoods and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.

But VAERS is not the way to determine causation. In fact, it’s not even a good way to determine correlation. At the very best, VAERS contains observational information that functions as a safety signal for the FDA and CDC, who have the resources and epidemiologists who can use other methods to determine if there is a correlation, and possible causation, between a vaccine and an adverse event.

It’s ironic that most of the so-called “VAERS data” used by the anti-vaccine activists are analyzed by amateurs, who have never taken an epidemiology or statistics course. Good research into vaccine adverse effects requires much better data than is found in VAERS.

Let’s take a look at VAERS, correlation, and causation. It’s much harder than you think.

Read More »VAERS does not show causation between vaccines and adverse events
physicians for informed consent

Physicians for Informed Consent — VAERS-loving anti-vaccine group

Physicians for Informed Consent is another one of those science-denying groups trying to pretend to be all about vaccine “informed consent,” but they spread anti-vaccine nonsense, no different than what we hear from the usual suspects like Del Bigtree and Robert F Kennedy Jr.

I’ve written about Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) a few times, but I wanted to tell you all about the characters that are at the forefront of this anti-vaccine group. Talk about the usual suspects.

Read More »Physicians for Informed Consent — VAERS-loving anti-vaccine group