Filed under: CDC Watch, News, Opinion, Pro-Vaccine Memes, Vaccine Myths, Vaccine Science
These little items go up on Facebook first and then I’ll add them to this ever-expanding blog post.
Here is one that was delivered right on our page not long ago–vaccines only represent 2% of the global pharma market, therefore the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t ever be tempted to do anything dirty like fake research or bribe legislators. And here is a perfect refutation coming directly from the mouth of a pharma web-site. http://www.pharmpro.com/
Refutations to Pro-vaccine Memes (number 2 of a series) “Comprising a little over 8% of the earth’s crust, aluminium is the most abundant metal on the planet.” and here is the sub-text which is implied but rarely stated: therefore human beings should be able to cope with aluminum in the air, in their water, in their food and in their vaccines.
The first thing to sort out is the source of this statement. It is sort of true but doesn’t actually mean much in terms of the safety of exposure to aluminum in air, water, food or vaccines. In addition to turning up on reference sites, you’ll find this quote on the site of corporations that mine bauxite and manufacture aluminum. Of course such companies want to minimize concerns about pollution and contamination. An example: http://www.constellium.com/aluminium-company/aluminium-properties-and-uses
Aluminum doesn’t occur naturally as aluminum, so the story that it is 8% of the earth’s crust is a bit twisty right off the bat. Here are some facts: “Aluminium never occurs naturally in its pure form; in the ground it is combined with other chemicals as minerals in ore rocks.
The major source of aluminum is layers of soft ore called bauxite, which is mostly aluminum hydroxide.” http://www.houseandhome.org/facts-about-aluminum
Filed under: CDC Watch, News, Opinion, Parents' Pages, Vaccine Myths
Every August we are hit by a wave of publicity for National Immunization Awareness Month, reminding everyone in the United States to get their children vaccinated, themselves vaccinated, their parents vaccinated, probably even their dogs and cats and goldfish vaccinated.
Vaccinations shouldn’t be that difficult to sell. Who wants their child to die of a communicable disease like mumps? And we all know that influenza kills 36,000 Americans each and every year, because this number is mentioned in just about every news story pushing the influenza vaccine, so it shouldn’t be difficult to convince millions to get their annual flu shot. Except that the Wall Street Journal points out that there are some valid questions about this widely publicized number from the CDC. Even mainstream publications sometimes have questions about diseases and vaccines. Once in a while. Read more
The public has a perception that peer reviewed medical journals are held in the highest regard in terms of scientific accuracy. So often we hear the question, “Did the study come from a reputable peer reviewed journal?” on the assumption that something reviewed and authorized as ‘true and correct’ by the peers of the writer, must have a bigger, better stamp of authority.
Medical History through the ages, has much to teach us about how the view of peers can be utterly wrong, to the cost of both mothers and children. Oliver Wendell Holmes is only one example. To those who study medical literature, problems with peer review is nothing new.
Much to Inside Vaccine’s amusement, the sanctity of peer review received another truth-review, when the Scientist http://www.the-scientist.com/article…7601 published an article expressing more of their concerns about the ways in which peer review processes, work against “science” being the primary focus of science publications.
While considered by the public, to be gold standard medical practice, scientists openly discuss the peer review process as a broken system, plagued with the medical equivalent of nepotistic turf protection.
While the Scientist’s article is interesting, other scientists spell out the problems in more precise detail: http://www.ipscell.com/?s=i-hate-your-paper-dr-no-and-the-editors-that-are-ruining-peer-review showing that obstruction can come in the form of editors who turn a blind eye to unreasonable reviews from competitors, or friends of competitors. Reviewers themselves can make suggestions which are either ludicrous, make no sense, or show that they don’t understand the topic (and therefore consider the study worthless). Then there are the reviewers who suggest the researcher obtains better laboratory materials from them, and promptly refuses to supply on request, or doesn’t reply when asked. The list of ways in which peer review can be undermined, is legion, and very entertaining. Particularly the one about the reviewers who approve papers no matter the errors, because they know the person they just reviewed will probably review their work the next time around. Read more
Filed under: CDC Watch, Opinion, Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis
A handful of countries recommend the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine for all children and an even smaller group have a chickenpox booster on the schedule. The US leads the pack of countries with a 2 shot schedule, and following along are Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Greece, and part of Australia.
Some countries give the shot to adolescents, others offer it to members of “risk groups”… and a few have a one-shot schedule for toddlers: Canada, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Cyprus, Latvia, and Korea. A grand total of 26 countries offer the shot in one way or another. 
The US was the first country to recommend the shot for all toddlers, in 1996 :
…. empiric data on medical utilization and costs of work-loss resulting from varicella were used. The results of this study, which were determined using an estimated cost of $35 per dose of vaccine and $5 for vaccine administration, indicated a savings of $5.40 for each dollar spent on routine vaccination of preschool-age children when direct and indirect costs were considered. When only direct medical costs were considered, the benefit-cost ratio was 0.90:1.  (emphases added)
But it turned out that a single shot of varicella vaccine didn’t work to suppress chickenpox.
…varicella outbreaks have regularly been observed in populations with high vaccination coverage and are the cause of sizable disease and economic impact for public health departments and the US health system overall. To further reduce varicella disease burden, a routine 2-dose varicella vaccination recommendation was approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in June 2006 (first dose for children 12–15 months of age, second dose for children 4–6 years of age) . 
The single-shot regimen showed a narrow margin of benefit only when placed alongside income lost by parents staying home to care for sick children.
But when the one-shot program failed, the ACIP came up with another cost/benefit justification for the second shot where the evidence….
….included ongoing disease burden and varicella-zoster virus transmission, including transmission from breakthrough cases to high-risk persons that may lead to severe disease and even death (CDC, unpublished data); partial or complete susceptibility in 1-dose vaccine recipients as they become adults; the burden on public health agencies due to varicella outbreaks in highly vaccinated school settings, which have proven disruptive to society and costly to control; and the increased immunity and disease protection from a second dose. Overall, the 2-dose strategy still provides very high cost savings (>$0.9 billion from societal perspective).  (emphases added)
So the ACIP justifications for adding a second dose, used the consequences of their decision to recommend the first dose of varicella vaccine. These ingenious calculations created a bigger cost savings than their first round! Read more
Every Child by Two proclaims that vaccines save money! Lots and lots of money!
Childhood Vaccines Save Lives and Money
- Routine childhood immunization
- 33,000 deaths prevented
- $43 billion saved
But then, on the side of their web-page, is a link to a graphic illustration of the rising costs of childhood vaccination.
Looks like they want it both ways: “vaccines save billions” by reducing health care costs, preventing hospitalizations and doctor visits; BUT “the newer vaccines are more expensive and we need to put a lot more tax dollars into vaccination programs.”
If the numbers with respect to “dollars saved” were solid and existed across the entire vaccine program, the argument would be a good one. Upon further scrutiny, it looks like they are pulling a bait and switch. They put forward some old numbers based on the less expensive vaccines combined with some inflated statistics for predicted epidemics (see the “33,000 deaths prevented” link above for our detailed analysis of these numbers), then slide right past the huge increase in the number and cost of vaccines in the current U.S. schedule.
On top of this, some of the newer vaccines are aimed at illnesses which are of low incidence or fairly mild in most children. For example, Hepatitis B is very severe, but it isn’t common among infants born in the U.S. On the other side, chickenpox is usually a minor illness, although common. The chickenpox vaccine cost benefit justification actually depended on a monetary estimate of the cost of parental time lost from work. Some convoluted bookkeeping methods would be needed to demonstrate that universal vaccination with ALL of the vaccines on the current schedule results in overall health care savings. There is certainly no sign of these savings in the escalating cost of health insurance in the U.S. Read more
Why? Because they questioned a WHO (World Health Organization) diktat in favor of universal Hib vaccination in India.
Sorry, but this is getting ridiculous. Anyone, at any time who raises any concern about the safety, efficacy, or appropriateness of any vaccine is now called anti-vaccine.
Here is a potted history of the recent outbreak of name-calling.
In the July 2010 issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research this editorial appeared: Introducing pentavalent vaccine in the EPI in India: A counsel for caution.
The latest WHO position paper on Hib says ‘Hib vaccine should be included in all routine immunization programmes. This suggests that Hib vaccine should be included in the immunization programme universally, irrespective of an individual country’s disease burden, not withstanding of natural immunity attained within the country against the disease, and not taking into account the rights of sovereign States to decide how they use their limited resources. The mandate and wisdom of issuing such a directive, for a disease that has little potential of becoming a pandemic, needs to be questioned.
The editorial reviews the available data and on the basis of the science, questions the need for the Hib vaccine in India.
In response to this thoughtful challenge to the WHO policy on Hib, a news commentary was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) which called the concerned doctors an “anti-vaccine lobby.” This article, which is unreferenced, claims:
The Hib organism, which can cause severe bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, is estimated to kill more than 370 000 children worldwide each year, GAVI said. Nearly 20% of these deaths occur in India.
In response to the BMJ article, a rapid response was published in the online version of the BMJ by eight members of the supposed “lobby”
The doctors wrote:
The thrust for including Hib vaccine in India is based on 2 arguments. The first is that there is anecdotal evidence of the existence of Hib disease and Hib meningitis in India and that Hib meningitis may lead to long term morbidity. The second argument is that the well-to-do parents sometimes buy Hib vaccine in the open market to vaccinate their children. The Government of India must therefore provide it free for the poor, on the grounds of equity and fair play (2).
The problem with the anecdotal reports is that they do not specify the size of the universe from which the samples are drawn and public health policies cannot be based on these figures without a denominator. The many systematic surveys done to look at the magnitude of the problem of Hib disease in India have nearly always shown that the incidence of Hib disease is much lower than what was projected for India. Most of these studies have been funded by the WHO and these have been reviewed recently in an open access journal (3).
So, we have the BMJ calling names and publishing an unreferenced attack claiming high numbers of deaths from Hib, while the supposed anti-vaccine lobby provides carefully referenced information debunking the claims.
The pro-vaccine lobby has plumbed to new depths.
When it comes to third world medicine we almost invariably hear from the WHO about the successes of massive vaccination programs. If you look into the recent agenda for the World Health Assembly  you will find pandemic influenza vaccines at the top of the technical matters, and in the status section, the eradication of Poliomyelitis is at the top of that section. What is glaringly absent is a discussion of the pervasive double standards in research ethics, health-care safety and professional rigor that exist in the developing world. The WHO and its medical partners won’t talk about it publicly because when you look at the numbers, it is directly implicated in the suffering and ultimate death of millions of people in the developing world. That is what we’ll cover in this piece.
It is well known that needle re-use can be a major cause of virus transmission. In 2000, a WHO press release states:
Unsafe Injection practices have serious large-scale consequences…”unsafe injection practices throughout the world result in millions of infections which may lead to serious disease and death. Each year over-use of injections and re-use of dirty syringes and needles combine to cause an estimated 8 – 18 million hepatitis B virus infections, 2.3-4.7 million hepatitis C virus infections and 80,000 – 160,000 infections with HIV/AIDS worldwide. 
That same press release uses an epidemic of Hepatitis C that occurred from Schistosomiasis treatment in Egypt. Notably absent is any discussion of the massive immunization campaigns waged throughout the third world coincident with the massive epidemics of HIV and other infectious diseases. However, someone there must be aware of the potential problem because the press release states the following at the end:
In addition, to ensure the safety of immunization injections, WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have recently called for the exclusive use of auto-disable (AD) syringes for immunization by the end of 2003.
We know quite reliably that the WHO knew years prior to this press release (2003) that medical practices in the developing world were problematic. As Gisselquist outlines in his 2009 article  the WHO was quietly giving UN employees the following advice in 1991.
take special precautions to avoid HIV transmission via blood . . . If you are not carrying your own needles and syringes, avoid having injections unless they are absolutely necessary . . . Avoid tattooing and ear-piercing. Avoid any procedures that pierce the skin, such as acupuncture and dental work, unless they are genuinely necessary. Before submitting to any treatment that may give an entry point to HIV, ask whether the instruments to be used have been properly sterilized.
“Just because you need a third dose doesn’t mean the two dose schedule is having issues or anything”
Filed under: CDC Watch, News, Opinion, Parents' Pages, Vaccine/Disease Analysis
Because of continued spread, health authorities working with communities in Orange County are giving schoolchildren a third dose of the MMR vaccine. Gallagher says it will be two or three months before it’s known whether the effort succeeded.
Why do they need a third dose?
The infections happened despite high coverage with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Among patients ages 7 to 18 — the age group that had the most cases — 85% of patients had received the two recommended MMR vaccine doses.
This doesn’t mean the MMR vaccine isn’t working, says epidemiologist Kathleen Gallagher, DSc, MPH, the CDC’s team leader for measles, mumps, and rubella.
“Two doses of mumps vaccine is believed to be 90% to 95% effective,” Gallagher tells WebMD. “But that means people can still get mumps. If the vaccine is 90% effective and 100 people are exposed to mumps, 10 will get the disease.”
If we imagine that mumps is being sprinkled from the sky and spread evenly throughout the population, then yes, one out of ten vaccinated people would catch mumps if the vaccine was, indeed, 90% effective, or one out of twenty if it were 95% effective. But if the vaccine creates “herd immunity” then the disease shouldn’t be able to jump from vaccinated person to vaccinated person to vaccinated person. Read more
Lately I’ve been noticing an increasing number of journal articles, blog articles and opinion pieces on a terrible problem: Parents have questions about vaccines.
You would have to look far and wide to find anyone who thinks that these questions are valid and should be taken seriously. Common explanations are:
1) It is all about the parents who think they are really smart.
2) It is all about the parents who are very stupid and read stuff on the Internet.
3) It is all about the bad stuff on the Internet which is deceiving the parents who aren’t very smart and who think they are smarter than doctors. And infinite variations on this theme, which is really one argument…and the real argument is (drum roll)…vaccines are perfect and parents are the problem.
Being called stupid dupes hasn’t worked to shut up the parents with questions. Perhaps this is not a good strategy?
I’m sure you’ve noticed that many articles and blogs offer comment options to the public. If you are following the vaccine related discussions you’ll have noticed that there is a coterie of passionate vaccine defenders who pop up in every such public discussion. These vaccine defenders are fighting for the good of the vaccine program with everything they’ve got.
Oddly, however, the number of parents with questions seems to be increasing. Perhaps the vaccine defenders need to reconsider their approach. Read more