Facts, not Fantasy

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vaccine Central

I want to make something perfectly clear.  I will quite often repost things on this blog that come from a site called Vaccine Central.  That is a website that is run by Skepdude, and he does pretty much the same thing we do over here, except his site is only about vaccines.  But what he does is worthwhile, and needs to be publicized.  That is why I repost it here.  With that said, here are a few postings from there that I didn't get to over the past week:

Whooping cough still a big danger

PARENTS are reminded not to be complacent regarding the recent whooping cough outbreak which has claimed the lives of several infants in Australia.
After a five-week-old South Australian boy died from the illness earlier this month, state health authorities report a rise in the number of cases of the highly contagious disease.
He was the first infant to die from whooping cough in the state since 2001.
SA Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said “babies and young children are the most vulnerable to complications following infection, as tragically demonstrated in this case”.
“Vaccination provides the best protection against whooping cough,” he said. “It’s important that everyone makes sure their vaccination is up-to-date.”
Professor Phillips encouraged families to protect babies by ensuring everyone who has regular contact with them is vaccinated.
“Babies under six months of age are not able to complete the required series of vaccinations so they remain especially vulnerable,” he said.

Vaccine Preventable Deaths – 70 children in Zimbabwe

At least 70 children are being reported dead of measles in Zimbabwe in an outbreak that has gripped the Mashonaland Central province in the past two weeks. A national vaccination campaign has been in effect this year, however most of the deaths so far have occurred among members of the Apostolic church, who declined to take part in the massive immunization campaign, and also shun most other forms of western medicine in the belief that it diminishes their supernatural powers. In fact, it appears the anti-vaccination sentiment in members of the sect is so deep that a man reportedly beat his wife to death over her insistence that their two children be vaccinated against measles.
Jeremiah Makumbe (39) of Bhuka Farm in the Soti Source Resettlement Scheme allegedly murdered his wife, Beauty Mboneki (33), by kicking and hitting her with an iron bar after pressing ahead to have their children immunised at a local clinic. Makumbe has since appeared before Gutu resident magistrate Mr Amos Mbobo facing murder charges.
He was not asked to plead and Mr Mbobo remanded him in custody to next Wednesday for continuation of trial. Charges against Makumbe arose on September 16 this year at his homestead at Bhuka Farm when a dispute erupted between him and his wife after she told him that she was going to take their children for immunisation.
It is alleged that Makumbe was adamant that immunisation was out of the question as it was against their church doctrine. A heated argument ensued between the couple, both members of the apostolic sect.
Presenting the State case, prosecutor Mr Kumbirai Masasire said, in a fit of rage, Makumbe allegedly stood up and began kicking and punching his wife before striking her with an iron bar on the head inflicting serious head injuries.

Vaccine Preventable Suffering – Gaitley Batton

Gaitley’s Story
Gaitley, almost lost her life to a serious bacterial infection called meningococcal disease, when she was 4 years old. On New Year’s Eve 1997, Gaitley wasn’t feeling well so her mother, Heidi, took her to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, who diagnosed her with an ear infection and sent her home to rest. However, by the next day, Gaitley’s temperature rose to 106 degrees, and she began vomiting and became weak and delusional. When a purplish rash developed on her daughter’s body, Heidi realized her daughter might be suffering from something more serious and had Gaitley’s father rush their daughter to a local hospital.
Once at the hospital, an emergency-room doctor recognized the purplish rash as a classic symptom of meningococcal disease and decided to transport Gaitley to another hospital better equipped to handle her condition. Gaitley was taken to the hospital where Heidi worked. Shortly after arriving, her heart, kidneys, and pancreas began to fail and her lungs started to fill up with fluid. The infection in her blood also caused tissue damage in her extremities, resulting in the amputation of Gaitley’s toes on her left foot. In all, Gaitley was in the hospital for 40 days.
But her troubles didn’t end there; eight years later, at the age of 12, doctors had to amputate Gaitley’s left leg below the knee due to further complications resulting from meningococcal disease. This is what Gaitley’s mom said:
“There is a vaccination out there that prevents this from happening,” she said. “I’ve been talking about this for a while now… And it’s hard to get someone’s attention unless something happens… once that happened (the Clemson student died), it was like ‘Oh gosh! This is in our community.”
I am very sorry for all the pain Gaitley and her family have had to go through. On the other hand I am very happy to hear that they are out there advocating for, and educating the public about, the meningococcal vaccine, so that others can be spared the traumatic experience they had to endure. Thank you.
Independent Mail
National Meningitis Association

European Medicines Agency finds no link between swine flu vaccine and narcolepsy

The European Medicines Agency, a decentralised agency of the European Union, located in London, which is responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the European Union, reports through a press release dated 09/23/10, that after reviewing all the available data and reports on the supposed link between the swine flu vaccine, Pandemrix, and the sleeping disorder of narcolepsy, that “the available evidence was insufficient to determine whether there is any link between Pandemrix and reports of narcolepsy, and that further studies were necessary to fully understand this issue.
Pandemrix was used in Europe during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, at which time up to 30 Millions Europeans received the vaccine. This year, up to September 17, 2010, 81 reports suggestive of a connection between the vaccine and narcolepsy were collected. The Committee maintains that so far the risk-benefit of the vaccine is still positive and no restrictions in use are necessary.
It is important to keep in mind however, that the EMA Committee is not saying that there is no connection between Pandemrix and narcolepsy, but only that the current evidence is insufficient to establish a causal relationship between the two.  They caution that more research is needed to reach solid conclusions. In fact, they are continuing the analysis and review of the reports received.
The ongoing review is complex and will take some three to six months to complete. The Agency is working with experts from across the European Union to carefully scrutinise all available reports. Owing to a potential overlap of narcolepsy symptoms with several other neurological and psychiatric disorders, diagnosis is very often not confirmed until several years after symptom onset.
The number of reports of narcolepsy that occurred in children in some countries seems to be higher than expected in comparison with data from previous years. However, there are many uncertainties in the available information that need to be clarified. These include a possibility that earlier diagnoses of narcolepsy have contributed to this apparent increase. Also, the influenza pandemic itself may have contributed to a change in the rates of narcolepsy. These factors need to be assessed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
The ongoing review will require new observational (epidemiological) research in order to reach any firm conclusions on whether there is a link between Pandemrix and narcolepsy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

inFact: Vaccine Ingredients

Saw this on YouTube and had to post this here.  See, Facebook is good for something!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

California whooping cough update 9-7-10

As reported previously, the California whooping cough outbreak of 2010 has claimed the lives of 7 infants. Here is updated data as of 09-07-10 provided by the California Department of Public Health pertussis page. Unfortunately, the news is worse, the 8th victim has been recorded, yet another infant. Here is a synopsis of the CDPC data, as of 9/7/2010:
  • 3,834 confirmed, probable & suspected cases – a 7 fold increase from the previous year
  • This is the most absolute number of cases reported since 1958 and the highest incidence per 100,000 since 1962
  • 12% of cases were hospitalized, 59% of those hospitalized were children < 3 months; 74% were children < 6 months; 801% of the under 6 months hospitalized were Hispanic
  • 8 deaths have been reported all infants less than 3 months. 7 were under 2 months, thus had not received any doses of the pertussis vaccine. 1 had received the first dose (of 5) 11 days prior
  • Rates in infants < 6 months old are 6 times higher than the next biggest affected category 7-9 year olds, and 8 times the rates of adolescents, the third most affected category
  • Highest rates are seen in Hispanic infants < 6 months of age

Comment to add:  As an adult that may come in contact with infants, please get your boosters!

Ohio declares whooping cough outbreak

Ohio health officials have declared a whooping cough outbreak in Franklin county. 410 cases have been reported this year in Columbus and Franklin County and 258 have been laboratory-confirmed. Adults are encouraged to get booster shots, to prevent them from infecting young babies, who are the most vulnerable, as demonstrated by the 8 babies dead of pertussis in the California whooping cough outbreak. Through the end of August the county had seen twice as many cases as all of last year, and there are 4 months to go to the end of 2010. Columbus Public Health and the Franklin County Board of Health will hold special immunization clinics in the next couple of weeks that will offer pertussis booster shots. Here is the info:
Columbus Public Health will have two walk-in immunization clinics for pertussis booster shots and other school required vaccines.
  • Sept. 8 from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 15 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Franklin County Board of Health is holding two clinics by appointment for pertussis booster shots and other school required vaccines.
  • Sept. 8 from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sept. 11 from 9 a.m. to noon

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mandatory flu vaccines for health workers

In its upcoming October 2010 issue, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending mandatory flu vaccinations for health care workers. Here is the current release from the AAP website:
Health-care associated influenza outbreaks are a common and serious public health problem that contribute significantly to patient morbidity and mortality and create a financial burden on health care systems. In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all health care personnel should be required to receive an annual influenza vaccine. The policy, “Recommendation for Mandatory Influenza Immunization of All Health Care Personnel,” published in the October 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 13), states that “despite the efforts of many organizations to improve influenza immunization rates with the use of voluntary campaigns, influenza coverage among health care personnel remains unacceptably low.” Annual influenza epidemics account for 610 660 life-years lost, 3.1 million days of hospitalization, and 31.4 million outpatient visits. Flu generates a cost burden of approximately $87 billion per year in the United States. Mandatory influenza immunization for all health care personnel is “ethically justified, necessary and long overdue to ensure patient safety,” according to the statement. The influenza vaccine is safe, effective, and cost-effective, so health care organizations must work to assuage common fears and misconceptions about the influenza virus and the vaccine.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Anti Vaccine Watch

The anti vaccine movement has been gaining a lot of strength over the past decade, not only in the US, but also worldwide. Parents, celebrities and other interested parties have been raising a lot of questions and concerns about, what they perceive to be, vaccine concerns. Many of the concerns they raise have been studied in-depth and we have a pretty solid scientific consensus about them. For example, the claim that the MMR vaccine causes autism has failed to be validated, and in fact study after study shows no causation between the two. The same has been true about concerns about thimerosal (a.k.a. mercury).
However, it is important not to demonize this opposition. I have a firm belief that the vast majority of them have their heart in the right place; I believe they are motivated by pretty much the same values that motivate me; that is the well-being of our children. On the other hand, I also believe that they are very picky with the evidence; that they have very low standards for evidence; that they are inconsistent in their logic and either do not understand, or refuse to acknowledge, their logical fallacies, when they commit them. Some of them seem to be too invested in some conspiracy theory and are ideologically opposed to vaccines to the point that, while demanding evidence for X and Y, they are unwilling to accept any evidence for X and Y that opposes their pre-existing beliefs.
Nevertheless, it is important that we take their arguments seriously and devote some of our limited time to looking into the allegations they make, because it is quite conceivable that at some point they may make a good argument, and we shouldn’t be willing to miss  the chance to look into a real issue. So, here at Vaccine Central, I intend to keep an eye on the anti-vaccine side, and address some of the claims they make, from time to time.
Today, we will look at a website called MothersClick which features an article titled “Flu Vaccine Banned in Australia but safe in the US?????“. You can see right away, from the 5 question marks in the title, that this piece is meant to scare, but let us not reach premature conclusions. Let us look at the actual claims in the article, and see if the evidence supports them.
Although it’s still summer here in the US, it is of course winter in Australia, and the flu season is well under way there. As usual, Australian health authorities have been urging parents there to vaccinate their children against the flu, propagating the mythology that flu vaccines are both safe and effective. But this time around, many Australian parents found out the hard way that they were being lied to.
The first thing to notice is the claim that there is a “myth” that flu vaccines are both safe and effective. That is patently not true, unless one twists “safe and effective” to mean that it is 100% safe and 100% effective, which is absurd and irrational to expect of anything that we use or consume in our daily lives. Nothing that we consume is 100% safe; just a little while ago lettuce was recalled because of E. Coli contamination; more recently a major egg recall has been in effect in the US because of salmonella tainting. Products are being called left and right because we’re finding out that they are not 100% safe. Did you know that hood sweaters are recalled because in some instances, to some people, they can be a choking hazard? Did you know that every year there are about 45,000 deaths, in the US alone, due to car accidents? Does this mean we’re being lied to about: lettuce, eggs, hood sweaters, cars and goodness knows what else? Or is it more reasonable to think that humans, and human produced products, are not perfect, and cannot be expected to be otherwise? Then why would we expect perfection from vaccines? Rationally we shouldn’t.
The fear mongering continues:
Remember: Health authorities in Australia, UK, the United States and everywhere else have relentlessly insisted that flu vaccines are perfectly safe and can’t possibly harm anyone. In the U.S., the FDA has given its approval to the very same flu vaccine that’s harming children in Australia, and the CDC has insisted that all children in the USA — regardless of age — should now be injected with this very same flu vaccine. They did not change the vaccine in any way it is the same exact one!!!
There are two claims to unfold here. The first one is that “the United States and everywhere else have relentlessly insisted that flu vaccines are perfectly safe and can’t possibly harm anyone”. Is that true? Does the US government and doctors tell us that flu vaccines are “perfectly safe and can’t possibly harm anyone”? Let’s check.
The CDC has a whole page about Vaccine Side Effects, where they list in detail all the side effects that have been associated with each vaccine in the US schedule, both Mild and Severe reactions, including the flu vaccine. They also provide detailed fliers for both the LAIV version, and the inactivated version of the flu vaccine. Furthermore, since 1988 the United States has set up the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to set aside funds to compensate people who are injured from certain vaccines. Even more, the CDC and the FDA have set up the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System used to collect information about adverse affects following the vaccination. It is clear that these facts completely contradict the claim that we are being told the flu vaccines are “perfectly safe and can’t possibly harm anyone”. That claim as well is untrue.
The second claim that is being made here is the one expressed in the last sentences, that the same vaccine from Australis is being given to US children. While this is superficially true in the sense that they all are flu vaccines, this is the logical equivalent of saying that eggs being sold in France are the same as the recalled eggs in the US, because they’re both chicken eggs. The fact of the matter is that the CDC recommends that the Australian vaccine, which was associated with highly increased chances of febrile seizures, should not be used in US children.  This applies only to Afluria, a vaccine produced by the same company that produced the Australian one, not to the other brands of flu vaccine which have not been associated with this problem. In fact, if you look at the inactivated flu vaccine flier at the CDC’s website, you will see a prominent disclaimer in the second page, where they suggest now that Afluria shouldn’t be given to any children under the age of 8. Again, to reiterate the point, claiming that you should stay clear of all flu vaccines because the Australian brand seems to be problematic, is akin to saying that someone in France shouldn’t eat eggs because of the egg recall in the US. It appears as though this claim is not true either.
In conclusion, it appears that this piece specifically is making claims that can be shown to be false with a little bit of research. So why did the author make them in the first place? The reasons can be multiple, and I wouldn’t want to speculate. What we need to take away from this short analysis, is that anyone can write anything on the web; that anyone can make any claim they want on the web; that we cannot trust everything we read on the web and the reliability of the source of the information must not be automatically assumed, and that includes me, which is why I try to back up what I say with information from reliable sources. And lastly, just because a conspiracy theory about government cover up sounds possible, it doesn’t make it so, specifically when one considers all the things the government is supposed to be covering up: UFOs, vaccines, nuclear anything, fluoridated water, power lines causing cancer etc etc.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Vaccine Preventable Death – Landon Carter Dube

I must warn readers that the following video is very sad; you won’t be able to watch it to the end with dry eyes.

Age at death - <2 months
Cause of death – Whooping cough (pertussis)
Vaccination Status – Unknown; highly likely he was unvaccinated due to young age (first pertussis dose is administered at 2 months)
What happened – Landon Carter Dube was born on December 8th, 2009. He was three weeks early; weighed in at 6 lbs 6 ounces and was 18 ½ inches long. On January 15th he  went in for his 6 week check up (he was actually 5 weeks and 3 days old).  His parents had some concerns that Carter had been spitting up a little and seemed to be kind of cranky at night. The doctor suggested switching his formula and monitoring his crying in case it was colic. Tuesday, January 19th Carter was not himself, he was cranky and wasn’t happy unless he was being held.  When his mother took his temperature, he was running a low-grade fever (100.1). His parents decided to take him to his pediatrician for a quick visit. I will let his mother tell you what happened next:
We saw a NP that day; she was immediately concerned with Carter’s breathing rate and thought he maybe a little dehydrated. The next thing I knew we were in an ambulance headed to Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC. We were admitted to the 8th floor, Progressive Care Unit for observation. Doctors came in and asked a lot of questions over and over again, everyone had to wear a mask and a gown because they were unsure what was wrong with Carter. The doctors threw around RSV, pneumonia, upper respiratory infection, and the lastly Purtussis (whooping cough).
Over the next two days, Carter had to be put on nasal oxygen, he was taken for chest x-rays, suctioning out of his nose and lungs, and they even beat his back to loosen up his lungs. Nothing worked and only seemed to make him mad. They even placed an IV in his arm (covering the finger he sucked on) to supplement his lack of mild intake.
Friday, January 22nd Carter started coughing and lost his breath and turned blue. I totally panicked; if my husband would not have been there I don’t know what would have happened. I just froze in my steps.
Saturday, January 23rd Carter was sent to the 6th floor PICU, for better care and observation.
Early Sunday, January 24th the decision was made to put Carter on a respiratory. He had become fussy and inconsolable, which caused him to struggle even more to breath. That was the last time we saw our Carterbug awake, but we didn’t know that at the time.
Around noon on Tuesday, the doctors starting through around the idea of putting Carter on an ECMO (heart and lung bypass machine), but it would be the last resort. The percentage we were given was 60/40 that he would leave the hospital with us. We discussed our options with the doctor and made arrangements for Zach to come and see Carter before the procedure was done. Zach for only being 10 handled it very well and was a real trooper through it all. Carter went into surgery later that evening and we sat around with our wonderful family and friends and waited. It took about 3 hours for the procedure and we were told Carter came through it ok.
I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked back to his room. My sweet baby boy with these huge tubes in the side of his neck and watching his blood go in and out of them. The ECMO machine itself was huge and required two people to run it at all times. Now Carter had four people in his room, two full time nurses and two ECMO techs. Carter had started swelling and wasn’t putting out enough urine for the fluid he was taking in. The doctors told us it was related to the stress on his body for being so sick. Now we had to worry about kidney failure and other issues related to the swelling.
Wednesday January 27th, was a good day. Carter held his own all day and there were no sudden changes. It was the first day we relaxed a little and talked about a long term plan. They didn’t sugar coat it, we were still looking at a month or more in the hospital before we would take him home. When we went to bed Wednesday night it was the first time I didn’t feel like I was carrying the world on my shoulders.
That feeling lasted about seven hours; we got a call from one of the specialists around 7:00. Carter had a rough night and they had to give him fluid boluses to keep his pressure up, we need to come to his room soon.
It was hard to stand back and look at my sweet baby boy all swollen to twice his size. They had him under a heat lamp to keep him warm and two huge medicine trees holding all of the meds that were working to keep him alive. An lets not forget the machine that was monitoring his heart and blood pressure that was constantly alarming us that something wasn’t right. It was like a bad dream and we just couldn’t wake up. We had asked the doctors to always be honest and to let us know when it got to the point that they were doing things too Carter and not for him.
At 5:06, Thursday January 29th, Carter received his angel wings. He went peacefully on his own terms to the arms of Jesus. I truly believe that we will see him one day and that his spirit is with us everyday.
By January 19th, little Carter was simply cranky and restless, 10 days later he was gone. Heartbreaking; absolutely heartbreaking. Please, vaccinate your kids; get your booster shots, ask anyone that will be in constant contact with your newborn to take the booster shot.
Carter’s Mom telling her story on Facebook
Carter’s Mom sharing this story on Shareyourstory.org