Filed under: News, Parents' Pages, Reviews of web-sites, Vaccine Myths, Vaccine 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
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
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.
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…
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. 
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.  Read more
We saw in our first  blog on polio that infection with this virus was common, but paralytic polio was rare. In our second  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  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. 
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
Recently we’ve come across multiple examples of local authorities messing with vaccine exemptions. Nothing new, of course, about the media publishing stories which leave out the availability of exemptions when they remind parents of the vaccine “requirements” for school. But there does seem to be something new about counties and school districts coming up with their own paperwork, sometimes in contradiction to state exemption requirements.
For the first time, insidevaccines is asking you to tell us your stories. Has someone given you a hard time when you applied for a vaccine exemption for your kids? Insisted that you need a signature from your pastor? Asked you to sign a form admitting that you are risking the lives of your children and other people’s children? Or?
Comment here, or, if you prefer, send them via e-mail to healthykids@insidevaccines. com
Please share this query on forums and anywhere else you can think of. The more the merrier.
We will not publish anyone’s stories, but we may provide a list of states where problems have arisen and a general description of the types of harassment parents have encountered.
Thanks in advance.
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
Filed under: CDC Watch, Parents' Pages, Vaccine Science, Vaccine/Disease Analysis, WHO Watch
KHAGARIA: On the sandy banks of Kosi river in north Bihar, a quiet crowd of several hundred people is waiting in the sizzling morning sun. A speck appears in the pale blue summer sky, rapidly growing in size — its a gleaming white helicopter. Within seconds it is hovering above the opposite bank, amidst the cornfields.
The crowd is awestruck at the monstrous machine as it settles down in billowing clouds of sand. Out comes the man everybody has been waiting to see — Bill Gates.
Bill Gates has come to find out why polio eradication is failing in Bihar. He asks questions about immunization strategies and tries to figure out what sort of technical problems are blocking universal vaccine delivery.
People complain of lack of basic health facilities…There are only 49 auxilliary nurse and midwives under the PHC, against a sanctioned strength of 76…So, the delivery of basic health services is itself a distant dream…The villagers hope against hope. Isn’t the spread of polio linked to lack of sanitation and basic health facilities? Gates acknowledges this fact but says that it is for the government to do the needful. “We are concentrating on the eradication of polio, which is achievable through vaccines,” he says. 
Polio epidemics first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century. Many doctors and scientists struggled with the mystery: why, as living conditions improved, did incidents of paralysis increase? Out of all the changes that came with modernity, improved sanitation was chosen as the change which caused polio to turn from a mild illness to one that left death and permanent damage in its wake. Here is an excellent example from a 2007 medical article which summarizes the concept:
Prior to the 20th century, virtually all children were infected with PV while still protected by maternal antibodies. In the 1900s, following the industrial revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, improved sanitation practices led to an increase in the age at which children first encountered the virus, such that at exposure children were no longer protected by maternal antibodies. Consequently, epidemics of poliomyelitis surfaced .  Read more
Note: separate re-issue of part two of one of our myths blogs. We got a complaint that this one was too hard to find and link to. The easiest fix was to split it into a separate article. Thanks for your understanding.
Myth: Vaccines aren’t money makers for drug companies.
Reality: As spoken by Tom Broker about Gardasil and Merck (see page 19 of pdf)
“From a purely business point of view, they’ve been facing some real interesting challenges over the Vioxx issue and they are looking at this as the foundation and the savior of the company. Believe me, they have a huge stake in this, just as we all do.”
How profitable are vaccines? Prevnar did very well for Wyeth:
… Prevnar, which had $2.7 billion in sales last year. Prevnar is Wyeth’s No. 2 product by revenue, behind antidepressant Effexor.
Some business press projections on the potential in the vaccine market:
Gardasil sales totaled $365 million in the first quarter of 2007, helping Merck reach nearly $1 billion in total vaccine sales for the quarter, more than triple vaccine sales from a year earlier. Analyst projections have ranged up to $4 billion in annual sales for Gardasil, assuming the government mandates widespread vaccinations for girls.
Merck launched two other vaccines in 2006 – Zostavax, for the prevention of shingles, and Rotateq, for the prevention of a rotavirus that causes diarrhea in infants. Les Funtleyder, analyst for Miller Tabak, estimates that these vaccines could reach hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.
“Merck showed that you can make quite a bit of money with vaccines, and I think that got a lot of people’s attention,” said Funtleyder.
If vaccines have the potential to offer huge profits to pharmaceutical companies–just like other blockbuster drugs–Lipitor or Vioxx are good examples, I think we can reasonably assume that the temptation to publish ghostwritten studies, suppress unwelcome results and use Key Opinion Leaders to subtly sell product is there with vaccines, too. And vaccines offer two additional benefits, available for no other drugs: mandates and immunity from lawsuits (in the US). Who wouldn’t be tempted by a package involving a guaranteed market, and tort immunity?
There was a period, quite a long time ago now, when vaccines were not profitable. But time past is not time present. This myth is long past its sell-by date.
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.