Look over here, NOT over there

January 31, 2012 by · 13 Comments
Filed under: Parents' Pages, Reviews of web-sites, Vaccine Science 

(and we strongly recommend that you just take us on faith).

Shot of Prevention recently put up a  blog article: Choosing Vaccination for Your Child is an Informed Decision   explaining where to go for information on vaccination.

I believe that parents must begin by understanding the importance of research, science and statistics in order to make an informed decision. In other words, it’s not that parents should look for a “neutral page”, as this mother suggests, but more importantly, an accurate one that uses scientific evidence to support their recommendations.

Insidevaccines agrees on the importance of using research, science and statistics to make an informed decision. The challenge is determining which pages are accurate and which use scientific evidence to support their recommendations. The writer on Shot of Prevention recommends various resources and provides links.

One thing the author does not recommend, and we find it an interesting omission, is to simply look at each resource she links to, choose a statement at random, and follow up on the references to see if the citations chosen actually support the statement or not, as the case may be. This simple step would demonstrate that she is actually pointing to science-based rather than faith-based information. We’ve written up evaluations of two vaccine supportive sites and found significant holes in the references. (see: Overinformed Refusal has to be Stopped and Written by Parents? Based on Science? )  This is not a terribly difficult step, and it will lay a real foundation of confidence in the data (or not). Any parent who has ever done a research paper has the basic skills required and the Internet makes it surprisingly easy to find article abstracts and sometimes even full-text articles. Read more

An injection of realism

January 3, 2012 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Parents' Pages, Vaccine Myths, Vaccine Science 

Are Vaccines Magical?

It is magical thinking that there are virtually no injuries caused by vaccines and the vaccination process. The safety factors promoted are completely unrealistic and could not be achieved by the use of a real placebo. Why? Because virtually all vaccines are injected, and the injection process itself, separate and distinct from the vaccine, is by definition an invasive medical procedure with multiple known risk factor rates greater than current vaccine safety claims.

Ask any responsible medical professional if it is possible to perform 1,000,000 insulin, Vitamin B12, or even saline injections without an injury. Serious adverse reactions from injections happen all the time. And medical error in general is a much larger problem than most people realise.

From the National Academy of Science: Medication Errors Injure 1.5 Million People and Cost Billions of Dollars Annually

This PowerPoint illustrates multiple common errors, see slide 2

Here a technician was using improper injection techniques for flu shots

“But they must be the only ones…” Nope, sorry. It turns out that this is a continuing problem across the entire health care industry.

3 Myths About Safe Injection Practices”-

….Premier survey conducted in May and June last year, indicating that of 5,446 provider respondents (better hope your HCP is not one of these), the following engage in unsafe injection practices:

  • 6% sometimes or always use single-dose/single-use vials for more than one patient
  • 9% sometimes or always reuse a syringe but change the needle for a second patient
  • 15.1% reuse a syringe to enter a multidose vial
  • 6.5% save that vial for use on another patient.

So, are vaccines and vaccination magical? Read more

Written by Parents? Based on Science?

This is our second post reviewing the new pro-vaccine site brought to you by Sanofi Pasteur.  In our first post we followed up on the claim that the site is science-based. In this one we’ll have a look at claimed authorship and continue our search for scientific references to back-up their declarations.

On the “About ImmYounity” page it is claimed that the information on the site is written by fellow parents:

There’s a lot of confusing information today about immunizations and parents need the facts.  This is why you can look to ImmYounity and Vaccines.com.  This Web site is written by moms for moms (and dads, too!) and is grounded in science — the best tool there is to help you make your own decisions about immunization.”

This is an interesting claim, considering that the answers provided are eerily similar to the soothing answers provided by the CDC and AAP on their websites. Read more

Overinformed Refusal Has to be Stopped

November 28, 2011 by · 13 Comments
Filed under: News, Parents' Pages, Vaccine Myths 

And Sanofi Pasteur is taking action with their new web-site.

The ImmYounity(SM) campaign provides consumer-friendly, accurate and science-based information about immunization that can be easily accessed at www.vaccines.com. The site contains useful facts and resources, including visuals that can be easily shared via social media and email, and is supplemented by educational brochures offered for use by health-care providers.

Sounds absolutely wonderful. Especially as they set the bar high in these statements on their Educate Others page.

  • Make sure the author cites the sources where he or she got the information, along with links to these sources. Is information presented objectively, or is it biased?
  • Does the Web site cite scientific evidence for the statements that are made? Can facts and opinions be easily distinguished?

This is certainly what insidevaccines strives to do. How does Vaccines.com hold up when you start looking at their references?

On their Vaccine Q & A page we found this question and answers:

Why are additives put in vaccines?

Additives in vaccines serve some of the same functions as food additives—they can act as preservatives and help extend shelf life, and are only used in very tiny amounts. Small amounts of additives are also used to kill or inactivate vaccines.67

Here are some additives you may have questions about:

Aluminum is used in some vaccines to allow for a better immune response. Infants are constantly exposed to aluminum in a number of ways: it’s present in air, water, food, even in breast milk. The amount used in vaccines, though, is a tiny fraction of the amount a baby would receive through breast milk or formula in the first 6 months of life. That small amount is eliminated quickly from a baby’s body.68

Antibiotics are used to prevent growth of bacteria during production and storage and rarely cause allergic reactions.67,68

Thimerosal is a preservative that is no longer in most children’s vaccines. It has been used in very small amounts to multidose vials of vaccine (which hold more than one dose) to prevent bacteria from contaminating the vaccine.8

If you have any concerns about what additives are in a specific vaccine, be sure to talk to your child’s health-care professional.

So, for supporting references we have 67, 68 and 8.

8 is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thimerosol in vaccines. http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/safetyavailability/vaccinesafety/ucm096228.htm. Accessed August 15, 2011.

67 is CDC. Vaccines and Immunizations. Ingredients of Vaccines – Fact Sheet. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm. Updated February 22, 2011. Accessed August 15, 2011.

68 is Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Vaccine ingredients: what you should know. http://www.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients.pdf. Accessed August 15, 2011.

Secondary sources. Okay. So we’ll go and see if  the secondary sources are supported by primary sources. Read more

Review: The average cost of measles cases and adverse events following vaccination in industrialised countries

One of our readers posted a comment asking us: “Can you tease out some facts in this study?” We think we could probably write several papers discussing the issues surrounding this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC128813/ but we will provide a brief summary because a study such as this isn’t worth spending an inordinate amount of time on.

We are going to make a few opening caveats:

1) Some of us believe that measles might be the only vaccine that is justifiable on a large population basis and that is only because there is some evidence that measles can have a relatively high (still low on an absolute basis) rate of serious side effects in some populations.
2) Cost justification studies (such as this) are usually based on a house of cards, and are only as good as the data that underlies the layers of assumptions made in the model.
3) Cost justification studies that are used to support mass vaccination mandates almost invariably turn out to be wrong due to underestimating the cost of the vaccine program and side-effects and overestimating the effectiveness of the vaccines.
4) These studies are often misleading because they are usually sensitive to a few key assumptions and they normalize everything to a dollar value. Here is a sample problem with normalizing everything to a dollar value: let us imagine we have two different vaccines that we want to give to 1 million people. In the testing, 50% of the people suffered 3 days of mild illness causing missed work with no long term effects from vaccine A. 1 person died from vaccine B with no one else suffering any ill effects. The cost of vaccine A would be far higher in almost any financial model, and yet clearly we would much rather fall mildly ill for 3 days rather than risk a 1 in a million chance of dying.

This particular study is interesting in that it is not actually performing a cost comparison or justification. It is only trying to set the cost of a measles case and the cost of a measles vaccine reaction. In order to judge the likelihood of bias in a study, a quick check on the authors reveals that although there are no direct conflicts of interest declared, several of them work for organizations which were desperate to defend the MMR vaccine in the wake of the Wakefield papers from around that time period. There is nothing wrong with that, but it provides context for the timing, content, and potential bias’ of the study. Read more

Lessons from H1N1: How Partial Immunity Can Kill You

December 20, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News, Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis 

We are now in the thick of the influenza season, and it is a true shame that the emphasis on vaccines against the flu has drowned out any mainstream discussion much less headlines for  an important study recently released in Nature about the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus: Severe pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza disease due to pathogenic immune complexes [1]. The press release is worth reading.

There are a few initial things that make this study worth noting:
1) It is not funded by the industrial/governmental health care complex
2) It is short, concise, and doesn’t draw any reaching conclusions
3) It furthers our understanding of the 2009 H1N1 Flu by doing a rigorous scientific follow-up of real cases.

The last point is a refreshing change as one of the best ways to learn something is to examine the medical outcomes for real people and this is something we don’t see very often from our medical authorities. The study itself does not address vaccines but the findings have important implications for mass influenza vaccination policies. Read more

Immunizations in foreign countries are unsafe

December 6, 2010 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: News 

What?

A new law, sponsored by Senator Klobuchar, allows children being adopted into the U.S. to skip being vaccinated in their home countries because apparently millions of children are being exposed:

to unsafe immunizations in foreign countries.

The news story continues:

The bill also allows U.S. parents adopting foreign-born children to safely immunize their children in the United States within 30 days of their arrivals, rather than have to subject their children to potentially unsafe immunizations in foreign nations. Previously, parents who adopted internationally were frequently required to immunize their children before bringing them to the United States.

We can only hope that all those foreign nations don’t pick up on this news story and wonder why it is okay for children who are remaining in Africa, Asia, South America or Eastern Europe to receive unsafe vaccines.

There are, of course, two obvious answers to why these vaccines are unsafe.

1) Needle re-use.

2) Mercury content. Due to a lack of refrigeration and a shortage of money, most vaccines in the developed world come in 10 dose vials, preserved with that wonderful, inexpensive toxin, thimerosal.

How could the journalists who put together this lovely, upbeat story miss the huge question of why it is okay for some kids (adopted in to the U.S.) to get “safe” vaccines and other children (remaining in their home countries) to receive unsafe vaccines? Why don’t all of those upbeat stories about vaccine campaigns in developing countries mention the hazards of “unsafe immunizations” and ask donors to give that little bit extra so children’s lives can be saved for real?

Stories like this one:

Burkina Faso has become the first country to begin a nationwide campaign to introduce a new meningitis vaccine that promises to rid the entire region of the primary cause of epidemic meningitis.

“This historic event signals the beginning of the end of a disease that has brought sickness and suffering to generations of Africans,” said Seydou Bouda, Minister of Health of Burkina Faso.

We can hope that despite the very inexpensive vaccine the budget for this campaign allows for the use of needles that cannot be re-used and omits the cheap mercury preservative, or some of the sickness and suffering will come as a consequence of the nationwide campaign.

Returning to our fortunate adoptees, how many vaccines are these kids going to receive within 30 days of their arrival in the U.S? If they are expected to catch up on several years worth of vaccination within 30 days they may still end up with some major health problems…

Tuberculosis Vaccine Use Based on “Blind Faith”

November 8, 2010 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis, WHO Watch 

UK is planning to introduce the BCG vaccine for all newborns in London because of a resurgence of the disease. The article states:

Health experts believe the threshold at which routine immunisation is required — 40 cases per 100,000 — has been reached across the capital. Current policy has been to offer vaccination to children who are born abroad or whose parents are born abroad. [1]

Why is it that Spain and the U.S. have never used the vaccine and yet have a very low incidence of TB?

The BCG vaccine is the most widely used vaccines of all, as well as the most controversial. The first BCG vaccine trial resulted in a huge disaster which seriously marred its reputation.

The Lubeck disaster will remain a landmark in the history of immunization. In the summer of 1930, in Lubeck, Germany, 240 infants were vaccinated with BCG; 72 of the vaccinated infants developed tuberculosis and died….

Nevertheless, the disaster had done much to harm public acceptance of the vaccine, and mass vaccination of children was only reinstated after 1932, when new and safer production techniques were implemented. Its efficacy has been found to range from 0-80%. [2] Read more

Polio: Causes and Effects Part II

October 10, 2010 by · 15 Comments
Filed under: Vaccine Myths, Vaccine/Disease Analysis 

Cut a hole in the immune system?

During the first half of the 20th century, every parent and child feared the word “polio”. In an epidemic, it attacked male and female, black and white, from rural communities to suburbia. Most people understood that a virus caused polio, but no one knew where the virus came from or how victims would fare. Often, the virus entered the body, created mild, flu-like symptoms, and left it virtually unscathed. Even though, in any community, most people would never get paralysed, pictures of iron lungs and braces would silently ask the question, “Will you be next?”  If, rather than immunity, a person got paralytic polio, the  outcome of conventional medical treatment might be some sort of deformity, or for the worst bulbar polio cases, weeks or a lifetime in an iron lung, or death.  Everyone knew certain aspects of the polio virus: It was highly contagious; struck without warning and preferred children and young adults; and the medical profession could offer neither prevention or cure. [1]

In 1954 a newspaper article quoted a study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association:

Analysis of the data suggested that the absence of tonsils and adenoids, regardless of the time of their removal in relation to the onset of poliomyelitis, increased the risk that the bulbar form of the disease would develop. [2] Read more

Polio: Causes and Effects, Part I

September 7, 2010 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis 

We saw in our first [1] blog on polio that infection with this virus was common, but paralytic polio was rare. In our second [2] article we reviewed the history of polio and the significant number of cases of paralysis from other causes which were blamed on polio. In the third [3] article we looked at one of the explanations for the rise of paralytic polio in advanced countries and the collapse of this explanation as polio increased in developing countries.

With polio, is there one cause, the virus, and one effect, paralysis? Obviously not, as the results of infection with the polio virus range from absolutely nothing to death. In this series we are going to review some of the factors which, combined with the presence of the virus, can move the situation from no symptoms and no problems, to paralysis.

A characteristic of infection with polio is the length of time it takes to clear the virus from the body and create immunity to polio.

…the interval between initiation of infection and appearance of CNS signs may be as long as several weeks, which accounts for the great variation in the incubation period of the disease. [4]

CNS means inflammation of the central nervous system. Someone can be carrying around a happily multiplying polio virus in the nose, throat and gut system, and other non-neural areas of the body, for a period of weeks without having any symptoms to indicate that the virus is there. “Non-symptomatic response” to polio virus exposure, results in eventual clearing of the virus from the system, permanent immunity to that strain of polio, and is the normal bodily response to the polio virus.

However, if something occurs during the several weeks of polio virus carriage which opens up access to the central nervous system to the virus, then the polio moves from asymptomatic to paralytic. There is a list of provokers which cause polio to invade the CNS.   Today we are going to consider one cause which we can credit to the medical profession. Read more

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