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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vaccine Central: Vaccine Preventable Death – Raymond Plotkin

A lot going on in this story.  I am at least glad that his parents are not anti-vax nutters.  It is sad that there were not enough available vaccines.  It would have done its job of saving this young man's life.  Their whole purpose.

Vaccine Preventable Death – Raymond Plotkin


Age at death - 18 years
Cause of death –H1N1 (Swine Flu)
Vaccination Status – Unvaccinated
What happened – Raymond Plotkin, was a freshman at the University of New Mexico. He was studying to become an engineer. He started class in August 2009 as a freshman interested in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering. He enjoyed his roommates and living in a dorm as part of the Engineering Living Learning Community. In 2009 he had the regular flu shot, but due to shortages of  the vaccine, he wasn’t able to get the H1N1 vaccine.
While Raymond had health issues growing up, he had no problems in the last couple of years, according to family members. Doctors told the family they do not believe underlying health problems contributed to his death
He died on Wednesday evening of  November 11, 2009, four days after being admitted in the hospital. Said Raymond’s mother:
“It was a terrible tragedy. It could have been prevented had there been vaccine,”
“We are strongly recommending that because Raymond couldn’t take his shot last year, that this year everyone, that whether you’re a child, adult, parent, grandparent, we all take one for Raymond,”
People are getting complacent about H1N1. Please remember what happened to Raymond and get both the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines as soon as you can.
Raymond’s family has set up a scholarship fund in honor of Raymond’s memory. The first scholarship was awarded to Sean Chavez, a 2010 graduate of Albuquerque High School and computer engineering student at UNM.
For more information about the fund, please contact Susan Georgia, UNM School of Engineering Development Office at 505 – 277-0664; sgeorgia@​unm.​edu.
Contributions can be sent to:
UNM Foundation/Raymond Plotkin Fund
ATTN: Susan Georgia, Development Office
UNM School of Engineering
Centennial Engineering Center
MSCO1 1140
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 – 0001
My deepest condolences to to Raymond’s family. I am very sorry for your loss.
Sources
KVue.com
New Mexico Daily Lobo
The University of New Mexico
Khou.com

 

Friday, October 22, 2010

CNN: A tiny life lost to whooping cough

Anti-vaxers you rock! You found a way to lower the worlds population! Keep up the awesome work! (In case you don't get it, that is what we call sarcasm. I personally think you should be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter for each case.)

Seriously though, these stories can go on and on, yet the lies and distortions of the anti-vax pro-disease people are what get the attention.  This is one of the vital reasons that we need science literacy in our educational system.  People just can't tell that they are being lied to, and even manipulated by these liars and charlatans.


Whooping cough is a rather mild-sounding name for a disease that can kill a baby before it’s even diagnosed.

Ten infants in California have died since the first of the year in an outbreak of whooping cough, whose proper medical name is pertussis. Many Americans think of it as a disease of the past, but nearly 6,000 cases in California  and more nationwide suggest otherwise.

Although California has had the highest number of whooping cough cases this year, other states are seeing slight increases. And Michigan has been watching a rise since the second half of 2008, which continues, according to the CDC. By Aug. 15, Michigan had seen 610 pertussis cases, compared with 902 for all of 2009 and 315 cases in 2008.

Daryl and Felicia Dube of Lancaster, South Carolina, became all-too familiar with the disease this year. Their baby son, Carter, came down with pertussis in January.

Whooping cough explained
Carter, just 5 weeks old, developed a low-grade fever one day and was unusually fussy but didn’t show any other obvious symptoms, said Felicia Dube, 35. She called the family’s pediatrician, who told her it was probably nothing serious but had her bring him in that same day to be sure. At the office, the doctor became concerned about the baby’s rapid breathing and called an ambulance to take him to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 30 miles away.

Things only got worse at the hospital over the following days as Carter’s eyes rolled around, he grew weak and irritable and he refused to eat. His heart started racing but his blood pressure was puzzlingly low.
Then the coughing started.

“This may sound strange, but the sound of it was like listening to a man, a smoker, cough,” Felicia Dube said.

Listen to what whooping cough sounds like

Carter was coughing so hard that it would make his feet come up in the air. It hurt and made him cry, which made him cough more, his mother said.

When the infant could not catch his breath and turned blue, he was rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit and given a high concentration of oxygen. Test results hadn’t come back yet , but doctors believed he had pertussis and aggressively treated him with antibiotics and sedatives.

“He wasn’t responding to anything,” Dube said.

After several frustrating days as Carter got worse and worse, surgeons hooked him up to a respirator. When that didn’t help, surgeons implanted an extracorporeal membrane

oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which takes over the work of the heart and lungs. Large tubes came out of Carter’s neck, routing his blood through a bedside machine.

“They tried to prepare us for it, but you’re not prepared to see that,” Dube said. “… Once they did that to him, we couldn’t touch him, so I couldn’t hold him.”

WATCH: Why it's important to protect against pertussis

And it wasn’t enough. Nine days after coming down with a 100.1-degree fever, Carter Dube died. Lab tests finally confirmed the pertussis diagnosis two days later.

“They did everything they could for him,” his mother said of the doctors and staff at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. “They tried. They cried as hard as we did.”

At 5 weeks, Carter was too young to have received his first pertussis vaccination. Because bad weather had kept the family from traveling since he was born, the infection only could have come from the parents, 10-year-old brother, Zach, or the pediatrician’s office, Dube said.

“It’s a horrible guilty feeling as his mother – I’m the one who’s supposed to protect him, and I could have been the one who gave it to him,” she said. “… That’s something you just don’t shake.”
Dube has become an advocate for adult pertussis booster shots to protect babies through what’s known as “cocooning.”

Why are parents skipping vaccines?

“Nobody should have to watch what we watched,” she said.

Vaccine Central: How are new vaccines tested before public use?

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have an article from Vaccine Central that should provide some useful information.  You can also get more information at these locations:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccine_Monitoring/history.html#2

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed  (Do a search for "vaccines" and "safety" and you'll find lots of articles.)

http://www.who.int/immunization_monitoring/routine/en/ with a follow on at http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/wer2010_wer8530.pdf

How are new vaccines tested before public use?

It is reasonable to ask how new vaccines are tested  before they are cleared for public use. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explains the various studies that must be done before the new vaccine is approved by the FDA. There are various stages of testing a vaccine must undergo before it is cleared for use. They are as follows.
1) Animal Testing - Firstly, the new vaccine is tested in animals for safety and immunogenicity, meaning that is must be safe and induce enough of an immune response to justify moving on with human trials.

2) Phase I Study – After a promising animal test, the process moves to what is referred to as clinical trials, meaning testing in human subjects. The first step in this process is a Phase I study, which is the first setting in which an experimental vaccine is given to people. The trial, which can last up to 2 years, may enroll between 20 to 100 volunteers. A Phase I study primarily seeks information on safety, particularly looking for any vaccine-related side effects. The study can also provide data on the dose and administration schedule needed to achieve the optimal immune responses.

3) Phase II Study – Once Phase I studies show the experimental vaccine is safe, well tolerated, and appears promising, it can advance into Phase II. These studies, which can last longer than 2 years, enroll between 100 to 300 volunteers. In these studies researchers gather more data on safety and immunogenicity. These studies also test the effects of varying the doses, and are also referred to as dose-ranging studies.

4) Phase III Study - The most promising vaccine candidates move into Phase III, enrolling 10,000 or more people. A Phase III study, which can last up to 4 years, is typically designed to ensure enough data are collected on safety and effectiveness to support a license application to FDA.
An intermediary study, called a Phase IIb study is being considered, as a middle step between the Phase II and the Phase III studies. This study would enroll between 2,000 and 9,000 volunteers. It appears, as of the time of writing, that Phase IIb studies are not a requirement like the others.
Besides the required tests, the FDA may require additional testing and data at any point. Furthermore, the proposed manufacturing facility undergoes a pre-approval inspection during which production of the vaccine as it is in progress is examined in detail. Vaccine approval also requires the provision of adequate product labeling to allow health care providers to understand the vaccine’s proper use, including its potential benefits and risks, to communicate with patients and parents, and to safely deliver the vaccine to the public.
Until a vaccine is given to the general population, all potential adverse events cannot be anticipated. Thus, many vaccines undergo Phase 4 studies-formal studies on a vaccine once it is on the market. Also, the government relies on the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to identify problems after marketing begins. The VAERS system and how it works is discussed further on this website.

Just the Vax: Reply to Faux Noise anti-science

I just found a link to this blog entry over at JREF, and I have to repost it here.  It will tie in with another article from Vaccine Central about the safety of vaccines and how they are tested. Keep in mind, Fox and Friends isn't exactly a bastion of intellectualism, or honesty for that matter, so there is that grain of salt to start with.

Dr. Bob Sears and Fox Friends

On Saturday, 2 October 2010, Dr. Bob Sears appeared on Fox Friends with Fox News Anchor, Alisyn Camerota (AC) .  Ms. Camerota begins the segment with the question:
AC:  Is there a connection between vaccines and autism?  Thousands of families with autistic kids think there is.  But the Centers for Disease Control has always maintained that no research supports a link.  Now one famous paediatrician has written a book about vaccines who charges the government's studies on vaccines is woefully inadequate.
Ms. Camerota introduces Dr. Bob Sears (BS), author of The Vaccine Book, which was published three years ago. 
AC:  The government says they have studied vaccines and they do not cause autism.  But has the government ever studied the amount of vaccines that our children get in 1 sitting?
BS:  That is what me and my colleagues at SafeMinds are a little worried about...there is a CDC report that says that usually simultaneous vaccination has not been completely studied for safety and that's what we're worried about.  Babies get as many as 6 or 7 vaccines altogether...and the CDC is admitting that they aren't always researched that way.  The prime example is the flu vaccine.  They've researched the flu vaccine in great detail when given alone, but the CDC has never researched it when given in conjunction with all the other shots...and that's what we're worried about.
Interestingly, SafeMinds is a notorious anti-vaccine organisation, also known as the 'mercury militia', that maintains that autism is caused by thimerosal, a preservative used in vaccines that contains ethylmercury.  However, mercury toxicity does not resemble autism, and autism rates around the world have been increasing in spite of thimerosal removal from paediatric vaccines and immunoglobulins starting in 1999 in the U.S. and even years earlier in other countries.  SafeMinds rejects any studies that demonstrate that thimerosal does not contribute to neurological disorders, even going so far as to storm off a study team, in a huff, the day the results were announced and not to their liking.

Dr. Bob alludes to some CDC report that states that simultaneous vaccination has not been completely studied for safety yet doesn't provide any further information about this.  However, the CDC information regarding simultaneous vaccination does not support what Dr. Bob claims.  For instance, from the CDC's Vaccine Safety Page:

Is simultaneous vaccination with multiple vaccinations safe? Wouldn't it be safer to separate combination vaccines and spread them out, vaccinating against just one disease at a time?

The available scientific data show that simultaneous vaccination with multiple vaccines has no adverse effect on the normal childhood immune system. A number of studies have been conducted to examine the effects of giving various combinations of vaccines simultaneously. These studies have shown that the recommended vaccines are as effective in combination as they are individually, and that such combinations carry no greater risk for adverse side effects. Consequently, both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended simultaneous administration of all routine childhood vaccines when appropriate. Research is underway to find methods to combine more antigens in a single vaccine injection (for example, MMR and chickenpox). This will provide all the advantages of the individual vaccines, but will require fewer shots.
Another advantage is that combination vaccines result in fewer shots and less discomfort for children. In addition, spreading out the administration of separate vaccines may leave children unnecessarily vulnerable to disease.
Dr. Bob mentions that influenza vaccine has not been tested with the childhood schedule as the 'prime example', when, in fact, it's the only example.  Vaccine safety studies are addressed later.  Ms. Camerota continues:
AC:  Let me show (CDC Infant Vaccine Schedule) our viewers how many different vaccines some children can get in one sitting.  At two months they get five or six, same at four months.  At six months they get tons!  At 12 months they get up to six, at 15 months they get up to six.  Why isn't the CDC looking at these combinations?
BS:  (Nodding in agreement and not providing any corrections to these assertions.)  Well I think the CDC is just assuming that they are safe.  Because there is no real evidence that they causes [sic] any harm...But I would like to see more research on it and I think that parents want to be confident in vaccines.  And as a paediatrician, I give vaccines in my office every day.  But I want to know that these large combinations are safe.  And what I do as a paediatrician, is I spread the vaccines out.  I give no more than two vaccines at a time to any babies in my office.  It takes longer to vaccinate them that way but I think it's a safer way to go.
Here is the CDC Infant Schedule:
There are not 'tons' of vaccines at six months; actually the same at two and four months and as a matter of course, three or four at 12 months and two or three at 15-18 months.  Dr. Bob not only spreads these out but omits some as well, and not necessarily ones that can or should be omitted and not some that should be as delayed as he has them.  He also eschews combination vaccines which reduce the number of jabs and vaccine constituents, while getting infants protected more timely than his recommendations.  Here are his evidence-free justifications for his recommendations:
  • By only giving two vaccines at a time (instead of as many as 6), I decrease the chance of chemical overload from grouping so many vaccines chemicals all together at once. This allows a baby's body to better detoxify the chemicals one or two at a time.
  • I give only 1 aluminum-containing vaccine at a time (instead of the recommended 4). Overloading on this metal can be particularly toxic to the brain (See Resources, page 250 of The Vaccine Book to view the research on this).
  • I give only one live-virus vaccine component at a time to allow the body's immune system to better handle the live viruses in these vaccines.
  • Giving fewer shots at a time may decrease the side effects, in my experience.
  • Giving fewer shots at a time also makes it easier to figure out which vaccine a child is reacting to if a severe reaction occurs.
Since Dr. Paul Offit and Dr. John Snyder have already critiqued Dr. Bob's schedules, I don't feel compelled to reiterate their reviews.  However, it does bear repeating that Dr. Bob's schedules have not been tested for safety and efficacy; he merely assumes that his recommendations are better because he has set up numerous faulty assertions that the CDC schedule is bad.  He cannot say that his schedules are safer because he has never put them through the rigours of testing, namely, do they protect infants from vaccine preventable diseases that they would otherwise not have and do his schedules prevent all of the bogey-man disorders that he claims fully vaccinating do or may cause?  He has done nothing to alleviate the fears and concerns that parents have since his book is rife with dubious studies that only serve to incite parental concerns and fears about vaccinating.

Dr. Sears creates controversy surrounding vaccine excipients where there really isn't any, by either misinterpreting or omitting relevant scientific literature.  It is a shame that Dr. Bob has chosen to pander to anti-vaccine rhetoric, for the premise of his book seemed appropriately timely, however his execution was sophomoric and clearly intended to further his own agenda and biases.  Ms. Camerota continues:
AC:  It's interesting that you say that because the CDC in part says that they have combined all these vaccines because parents have clamoured for that...parents say, we don't want to have to keep bringing our kids in every two months and giving them different shots, let's just get it all over with.  So perhaps they have acquiesced to parents desires but in a dangerous way.
BS:  Right, you know 20, 30 years ago we only gave babies two vaccines at a time with a total of about eight injections throughout their childhood.  Now we give babies six or seven vaccines each time and over 50 injections spread throughout their childhood.  So I think parents would rather go the extra mile and and [sic] spread the vaccines out cause [sic] I think parents feel like their babies are being overloaded.
Thirty years ago, infants and children received five DTP, four OPV and one MMR.  The U.S. also had about 20,000 Haemophilus influenzae b (HIb) cases in children annually with about 1,000 deaths each year and approximately 16,000 cases of hepatitis b infection in children less than 10 years old each year.  Twenty years ago, infants and children received 18 vaccinations with four given at visits for two, four, and six month olds, three or four given at 12 -18 months old and three given from four to six years old.  They were DTP, Hib, Hep B, OPV and MMR.  There had also been a huge resurgence of measles during that time with more than 55,000 cases and at least 259 deaths.

Today, children are receiving about 30 vaccines by six years old and three of those are not injections, 36 if parents diligently vaccinate their children for influenza, which are actually very few,  less than 30% most years.  So it is very difficult to determine how Dr. Bob calculated 50 injections, however, his own recommendation to split MMR up into six as opposed to two injections would get children closer to that.

But onto his argument that vaccines have not been tested together.  I don't know how he can make this statement when a quick and easy review of the literature reveals quite the opposite.  There are numerous studies that examine the safety and efficacy of new vaccines with existing ones, for example:
Hexavac with Hepatitis A
Hexavalent vaccine with Rotateq
DTaP with Hib
PCV-13 with all infant vaccines
MMR and Varicella
PCV-7 with MMR, Hib and Varicella
Pediarix with Hib and Infanrix-hexa
New Hib with all infant vaccines
MMR with Varicella
MMR-V with Hib-HepB
MMR-V with all infant vaccines
Meningococcal-C with Hep B and Pentacel
Pentacel with PCV-7
This is not, by far, an exhaustive list.  Additionally, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) exist to monitor vaccine safety after licensure.   Dr. Bob promotes himself as a vaccine expert yet continues to omit relevant facts.  There are valid criticisms of vaccines and policy that are supported by the scientific literature but  Dr. Bob chooses to raise the spectre of misinformation that he has the solution for. 
AC:  Certainly if they're educated, I think you're right about that.  We asked the CDC for their response to that fact that you say their research has been woefully inadequate, here is their response to us:
 "Vaccination is the single most important step parents can take to protect their children from life threatening diseases which once killed thousands of children each year.  Scientific data from years and years of research show that vaccines are safe and effective.  Vaccines do not overload the immune system.  Vaccines contain only a tiny fraction of the antigens that babies encounter in their environment every day.  We do know that delaying vaccines puts children at known risk of becoming ill with vaccine-preventable diseases."
- Tom Skinner, CDC Spokesperson, 1 October 2010
BS:  Well I agree with most of that, especially you don't want to delay vaccines for very serious diseases like meningitis or whooping cough.  However I think the CDC's argument about the thousands of germs that we can tolerate every day...I think that's scientifically invalid because I think they are talking about germs that we inhale, or germs that we swallow.  Those germs are exposed to our immune system in a natural way, in our intestines and our respiratory passages, our immune system processes those germs.  But when you inject germs directly into the body you by-pass the immune system completely and internal part, the bloodstream immune system has to see the germs and attack them, it's a very unnatural type of germ exposure.
It appears as though Dr. Bob has attended the 'Jenny McCarthy School of Immunology' .  His statements regarding 'natural' versus vaccine immune responses invoke one of the most erroneous and overused canards of anti-vaccinationists.  I can't quite parse what Dr. Bob is saying because his description of immunity isn't corroborated by anything known about how the immune system works.  How could he possibly explain an immune response to antigens (or germs as he puts it) that are introduced 'directly into our bodies' via cuts or insect vectors?  Is this also 'unnatural'?  He also seems to believe that this 'natural way' is completely infallible and compartmentalised such that pathogens cannot breech this.  So how does he explain the fact that pathogens have adapted to evade our innate immune system and requiring our adaptive immunity (perhaps what he is referring to as 'bloodstream immune system') creating antibodies to rid ourselves of them?

Vaccination does by-pass some front line non-specific immune defences, but certainly don't 'by-pass the immune system completely', for if they did, we wouldn't produce antibodies and immune memory defences against pathogens when we encounter them.  The whole point of vaccination is to 'teach' our immune system how to deal with the real thing, by using parts of bacteria or inactivated or attenuated viruses.  And they work!  Which shouldn't be the case according to Dr. Bob's primer on the immune system.  It takes quite a bit of knowledge on a topic to be able to reduce complex concepts down to a few sound bites.  So Dr. Bob's conjecture about vaccine versus natural immunity is the chasmic difference between dumbing something down and just sounding dumb. 
AC:  The CDC also said that they have done lots of research...it's interesting because they, they CDC has long cited 2 studies done by these Danish researchers that show that mercury in vaccines does not cause autism.  Well now the lead researcher is being investigated.  Why?
BS:  Right, he was kind of double-dipping so to speak.  He was taking money from the CDC to do this research, he was also under salary from the Danish Universities [sic] and that was against his contract and apparently that went against the rules and now, according to Danish newspapers, he has skipped town with 2 million dollars worth of Danish research money and that sort of calls into question the validity of his research.
Let's take a look at those publications first:
Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, Thorsen P, Olsen J, Melbye M. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 7;347(19):1477-82.

Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, Thorsen P, Plesner AM, Andersen PH, Mortensen PB. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics. 2003 Sep;112(3 Pt 1):604-6.

Notice the dates of publication and the order of the authors.  Ms. Camerota and Dr. Bob have referred to the lead author which is Dr. Madsen for both, well he isn't the author in question.  That would be Dr. Poul Thorsen, the sixth and fourth author, respectively.  Respectful Insolence has explained this relevance in great detail, but an author that far down on the list has not made a very significant contribution.  In fact, Dr.s Madsen and Melbye, the senior authors of the studies released a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer several months ago regarding Dr. Thorsen's involvement:
"Poul Thorsen had absolutely no influence on the conclusions regarding this paper," wrote Mads Melbye, head of the division of epidemiology at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen and senior author of the study, in response to e-mailed questions.
"Thorsen was not actively involved in the analysis and interpretation of the results of this paper," Melbye said.
The second study, published in Pediatrics in 2003, examined 956 Danish children diagnosed with autism from 1971 to 2000. It concluded the incidence of autism increased in Denmark after thimerosal was removed from vaccines.
Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, the lead author, said Thorsen played a minor role.
"Dr. Thorsen was not in a position to change or compromise the data," Madsen wrote. "Dr. Thorsen was part of the review cycle, but never very active in giving input. Dr. Thorsen never had access to the raw data nor the analysis of the data."
As for the dates, the studies were published in 2002 and 2003 but Dr. Thorsen's resignation under dubious circumstances did not occur until March, 2009.  Furthermore, the grant money in question was not part of the 2 studies in question at all, but rather part of a cooperative between the US National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities,CDC and Odense and Aarhus Universities.  And absolutely nothing at all questionable about that; it was the discovery of forged documents by (allegedly) Dr. Thorsen that may constitute fraud.  Apparently, Dr. Thorsen held a full-time post at Emory University, Georgia, USA while still employed by Aarhus University in Copenhagen, Denmark and that is what comprised of his 'double-dipping', not a grant from the CDC as Dr. Bob stated.  Dr. Thorsen is not missing as he continues to publish studies.  We don't know what the funding irregularity was but we do know it has nothing to do with the 2002 and 2003 studies and we do know that Dr. Thorsen's involvement with those studies is being inflated to extremes for the purpose of disparaging them.  It is as though Dr. Bob read the Huffington Post and Age of Autism, didn't bother to ask himself if it made sense, didn't do a little fact-checking and merely parroted extremely questionable sources. 

But Dr. Bob acts as though these 2 studies were the lynch pins for  exonerating vaccines in the role of autism.  Even if we were to dismiss these studies, Dr. Bob completely ignores the numerous other studies by other investigators, in numerous countries that replicate Madsen et al.'s research and then some.  A hat tip to Chris (comment #63) for putting this list together (I have added some recent studies):

Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study.
Hornig M et al.
PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
*Subjects: 25 children with autism and GI disturbances and 13 children with GI disturbances alone (controls)

Measles Vaccination and Antibody Response in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Baird G et al.
Arch Dis Child 2008; 93(10):832-7.
Subjects: 98 vaccinated children aged 10-12 years in the UK with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); two control groups of similar age: 52 children with special educational needs but no ASD and 90 children in the typically developing group

MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative Results Presented from Japan.
Uchiyama T et al.
J Autism Dev Disord 2007; 37(2):210-7
*Subjects: 904 children with autism spectrum disorder
(Note: MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993.)

No Evidence of Persisting Measles Virus in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
D’Souza Y et al.
Pediatrics 2006; 118(4):1664-75
*Subjects: 54 children with autism spectrum disorder and 34 developmentally normal children

Immunizations and Autism: A Review of the Literature.
Doja A, Roberts W.
Can J Neurol Sci. 2006; 33(4):341-6
*Literature review

Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations.
Fombonne E et al.
Pediatrics. 2006;118(1):e139-50
*Subjects: 27,749 children born from 1987 to 1998 attending 55 schools

Relationship between MMR Vaccine and Autism.
Klein KC, Diehl EB.
Ann Pharmacother. 2004; 38(7-8):1297-300
*Literature review of 10 studies

Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Institute of Medicine.
The National Academies Press: 2004
(www.nap.edu/books/030909237X/html) *Literature review

MMR Vaccination and Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Case-Control Study.
Smeeth L et al.
Lancet 2004; 364(9438):963-9
*Subjects: 1294 cases and 4469 controls

Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children with Autism and School-Matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta.
DeStefano F et al. Pediatrics 2004; 113(2): 259-66
*Subjects: 624 children with autism and 1,824 controls

Prevalence of Autism and Parentally Reported Triggers in a North East London Population.
Lingam R et al.
Arch Dis Child 2003; 88(8):666-70
*Subjects: 567 children with autistic spectrum disorder

Neurologic Disorders after Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination.
Makela A et al.
Pediatrics 2002; 110:957-63
*Subjects: 535,544 children vaccinated between November 1982 and June 1986 in Finland

A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism.
Madsen KM et al.
N Engl J Med 2002; 347(19):1477-82
*Subjects: All 537,303 children born 1/91–12/98 in Denmark

Relation of Childhood Gastrointestinal Disorders to Autism: Nested Case Control Study Using Data from the UK General Practice Research Database.
Black C et al.
BMJ 2002; 325:419-21
*Subjects: 96 children diagnosed with autism and 449 controls

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study.
Taylor B et al.
BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6
*Subjects: 278 children with core autism and 195 with atypical autism

No Evidence for a New Variant of Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Induced Autism.
Fombonne E et al.
Pediatrics 2001;108(4):E58
*Subjects: 262 autistic children (pre- and post-MMR samples)

Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Other Measles-Containing Vaccines Do Not Increase the Risk for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Case-Control Study from the Vaccine Safety Datalink Project.
Davis RL et al.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2001;155(3):354-9
*Subjects: 155 persons with IBD with up to 5 controls each

Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California.
Dales L et al.
JAMA 2001; 285(9):1183-5
*Subjects: Children born in 1980-94 who were enrolled in California kindergartens (survey samples of 600–1,900 children each year)

Mumps, Measles, and Rubella Vaccine and the Incidence of Autism Recorded by General Practitioners: A Time Trend Analysis.
Kaye JA et al.
BMJ 2001; 322:460-63
*Subjects: 305 children with autism

Further Evidence of the Absence of Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Full Thickness Intestinal Specimens from Patients with Crohn’s Disease.
Afzal MA, et al.
J Med Virol 2000; 62(3):377-82
*Subjects: Specimens from patients with Crohn’s disease

Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological Evidence for a Causal Association.
Taylor B et al.
Lancet 1999;353 (9169):2026-9
*Subjects: 498 children with autism

Absence of Detectable Measles Virus Genome Sequence in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tissues and Peripheral Blood Lymphocytes.
Afzal MA et al.
J Med Virol 1998; 55(3):243-9
*Subjects: 93 colonoscopic biopsies and 31 peripheral blood lymphocyte preparations

No Evidence for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine-Associated Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Autism in a 14-year Prospective Study.
Peltola H et al.
Lancet 1998; 351:1327-8
*Subjects: 3,000,000 doses of MMR vaccine

Exposure to Measles in Utero and Crohn’s Disease: Danish Register Study.
Nielsen LL et al.
BMJ 1998; 316(7126):196-7
*Subjects: 472 women with measles

Immunocytochemical Evidence of Listeria, Escherichia coli, and Streptococcus Antigens in Crohn’s Disease.
Liu Y et al.
Gastroenterology 1995; 108(5):1396-1404
*Subjects: Intestines and mesenteric lymph node specimens from 21 persons from families with a high frequency of Crohn’s disease

Neuropsychological Performance 10 years after Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chiarotti F, Salmaso S.
Pediatrics, February 2009, Vol. 123(2):475-82

Mercury Levels in Newborns and Infants after Receipt of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
Pichichero ME, Gentile A, Giglio N, et al
Pediatrics, February 2008; 121(2) e208-214

Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism: One Controversy, Three Histories
Baker JP
American Journal of Public Health, February 2008;98(2): 244-253

Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California's Developmental Services System: Mercury in Retrograde
Schechter R, Grether JK
Arch Gen Psychiatry, January 2008; 65(1):19-24

Early Thimerosal Exposure and Neuropsychological Outcomes at 7 to 10 Years
Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al; Vaccine Safety Datalink Team
N Engl J Med, Sep 27, 2007; 357(13):1281-1292

Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and Links with Immunizations
Fombonne E, Zakarian R, Bennett A, Meng L, McLean-Heywood D
Pediatrics, July 2006, Vol. 118(1):e139-e150

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System Reporting Source: A Possible Source of Bias in Longitudinal Studies
Goodman MJ, Nordin J
Pediatrics, February 2006, Vol. 117(2):387-390

MMR-Vaccine and Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Negative Results Presented from Japan
Authors: Uchiyama T, Kurosawa M, Inaba Y
Source: J Autism Dev Disord, February 2007; 37(2):210-217

No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.
Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9.

Thimerosal in Vaccines: Balancing the Risk of Adverse Effects with the Risk of Vaccine-Preventable Disease
Bigham M, Copes R
Drug Safety, 2005, Vol. 28(2):89-101

Comparison of Blood and Brain Mercury Levels in Infant Monkeys Exposed to Methylmercury or Vaccines Containing Thimerosal
Burbacher TM, Shen DD, Liberato N, Grant KS, Cernichiari E, Clarkson T
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, April 21, 2005

Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
Heron J, Golding J, ALSPAC Study Team
Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):577-583

Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Retrospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association
Andrews N, Miller E, Grant A, Stowe J, Osborne V, Taylor B
Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):584-591

Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Critical Review of Published Original Data
Parker SK, Schwartz B, Todd J, Pickering LK
Pediatrics, September 2004, Vol. 114(3):793-804

The Evidence for the Safety of Thimerosal in Newborn and Infant Vaccines
Clements CJ
Vaccine, May 7, 2004, Vol. 22(15-16):1854-1861

Safety of Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines: A Two-Phased Study of Computerized Health Maintenance Organization Databases
Verstraeten T, Davis RL, DeStefano F, et al
Pediatrics, November 2003, Vol. 112(5):1039-1048

The Toxicology of Mercury--Current Exposures and Clinical Manifestations
Clarkson TW, Magos L, Myers GJ
New England Journal of Medicine, October 30, 2003, Vol. 349(18):1731-7

Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism
Hviid A, Stellfeld M, Wohlfahrt J, Melbye M
Journal of the American Medical Association, October 1, 2003, Vol. 290(13):1763-6

Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data
Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, et al
Pediatrics, Sept. 2003, Vol. 112(3 Pt 1):604-606

Autism and Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Lack of Consistent Evidence for an Association
Stehr-Green P, Tull P, Stellfeld M, Mortenson PB, Simpson D
American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2003, Vol. 25(2):101-6

Impact of the Thimerosal Controversy on Hepatitis B Vaccine Coverage of Infants Born to Women of Unknown Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Status in Michigan
Biroscak BJ, Fiore AE, Fasano N, Fineis P, Collins MP, Stoltman G
Pediatrics, June 2003, Vol. 111(6):e645-9

Vaccine Safety Policy Analysis in Three European Countries: The Case of Thimerosal
Freed GL, Andreae MC, Cowan AE, et al
Health Policy, December 2002, Vol. 62(3):291-307

Mercury Concentrations and Metabolism in Infants Receiving Vaccines Containing Thimerosal: A Descriptive Study
Pichichero ME, Cernichiari E, Lopreiato J, Treanor J
The Lancet, November 30, 2002, Vol. 360:1737-1741

An Assessment of Thimerosal Use in Childhood Vaccines
Ball LK, Ball R, Pratt RD
Pediatrics, May 2001, Vol. 107(5):1147-1154

Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism
Price CS, Thompson WW, Goodson B, Weintraub ES, Croen LA, Hinrichsen VL, Marcy M, Robertson A, Eriksen E, Lewis E, Bernal P, Shay D, Davis RL, DeStefano F Pediatrics, October, 2010, Vol. 126(4): 656-664

On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes
Smith MJ and Woods CR
Pediatrics, June, 2010, Vol. 125 (6):1134-1141

This is, obviously, a lot of reading to do but considering the totality of evidence it is the responsible tact to take when advising the public about vaccine issues.  There are concerns and criticisms regarding the CDC vaccine schedule, but they are rather mundane when compared to the misleading and downright false conjectures that self-proclaimed experts would have us believe.  There seems to be an anti-intellectual movement afoot but with the taskmasters absurdly co-opting the esteem of education and credentials to propagate it.

It is encouraging to see that this interview was done by Fox News since they are renowned for their unapologetic biases and don't even bother to offer up any pretence of presenting a fair balance of issues.  An appearance on Fox News is akin to has-been and never-were celebrities breathing their last gasp on Dancing With the Stars.  It signifies the downward spiral of the anti-intellectual, anti-vaccine movement.  And that is a good thing.

Addendum (16 October 2010):  Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. has weighed in on Dr. Bob Sears' Vaccine Book and appearance on Fox News.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vaccine Central: Flu vaccine safe to administer to those with egg allergies

The excuses for not getting your flu vaccine are getting fewer and fewer.  Just get the shot, and prevent suffering for yourself and those around you!

Flu vaccine safe to administer to those with egg allergies

New guidelines by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology say that individuals with egg allergies can safely receive the flu vaccine, without a skin test being performed first. Flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, which raised concerns about possible allergic reactions to residual egg protein. Up to now, precautionary steps were taken, which included vaccine skin testing, administration via a 2-step graded dose challenging (10%, followed by 90% of the age appropriate dose after a brief observation period), or stepwise desensitization.
This latest AAAAI paper  ”offers guidance in how to evaluate and treat the patient with egg allergy who desires influenza vaccination, and outlines the latest evidence based approaches to successfully administer the vaccine.” According to the position paper:
Conclusion There has been tremendous growth over the past year in demonstrating that TIV (and H1N1) are safe for egg allergic individuals to receive. While a few concepts bear further study, such as the safety of these vaccines in individuals with severe allergy to egg, it appears that most egg allergic patients can safely receive influenza vaccination if desired. While no particular approach to administering the vaccine has been shown to be the safest and most effective, several methods for providing this service exist. Providers should no longer withhold the vaccine on account of a patient’s egg allergy, and should feel comfortable selecting one of two strategies we outline for administering the influenza

Vaccine Central: Whooping cough claims 10th baby in California

Yet another dead baby, and still not a peep from the anti-vax pro-disease nutters regarding their lies and distortions that are responsible...

Whooping cough claims 10th baby in California

The bad news keep on coming; the 10th baby, yet another 6-week-old,  has succumbed to the whooping cough outbreak in California. All the babies who have died this year were too young to be fully immunized, so health officials are urging parents and caretakers to get booster shots to create a cocoon of immunity around vulnerable children. Our hearts and thoughts go to the families of these 10 innocent infants during these tragic times in their lives. We are very sorry for your loss.

Vaccine Central: Everything you ought to know about the flu

It's always good to be informed about the disease you are trying to prevent.

Everything you ought to know about the flu

Well, not exactly everything, but a lot.


What is “the flu”?
Influenza, or “the flu” is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. There are 3 types of flu viruses, A, B and C which can cause the flu, and new strains (especially the A type) evolve every few years.
Type A viruses are responsible for major flu epidemics every few years. Type B is less common and generally results in milder cases of flu. However, major flu epidemics can occur with type B every three to five years. There is a third type of virus, C, which also can infect but does not produce flu symptoms.
What are the symptoms/effects of the flu?
Besides generally making one feel miserable, here is a list of some of the most typical flu symptoms/effects.

  • Headaches
  • Severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes
  • Cough
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue & exhaustion
  • Severe flu can lead to pneumonia
  • Sore throat and watery discharge from your nose
Are there any complications that can arise from the flu?
The most common flu complications include viral or bacterial pneumonia, muscle inflammation, and infections of the central nervous system or the sac around the heart. Other flu complications may include ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Those at highest risk for flu complications include adults over 50, children ages 6 months to 4 years, nursing home residents, adults and children with heart or lung disease, people with compromised immune systems (including people with HIV/AIDS), and pregnant women.
How does flu spread?
The flu is spread from person to person through respiratory secretions and typically sweeps through large groups of people who spend time in close contact, such as in daycare facilities, school classrooms, college dormitories, military barracks, offices, and nursing homes.
Flu is spread when a person inhales droplets in the air that contain the flu virus, make direct contact with respiratory secretions through sharing drinks or utensils, or handle items contaminated by an infected person. In the latter case, the flu virus on your skin infects you when you touch or rub your eyes, nose, or mouth. That’s why frequent and thorough hand washing is a key way to limit the spread of influenza. Flu symptoms start to develop from one to four days after infection with the virus.
Will one catch the flu if one goes out in the cold or gets wet by cold rain?
No. The flu is a viral infection; you need to come in contact with the flu virus to get infected. Feeling cold or being wet does not give you the flu. It might give you a runny nose though and other symptoms that may be reminiscent of the flu, but it does not cause a flu infection.
What are the symptoms/effects of the flu vaccine?
The most common side effects of the flu vaccine (both inactivated and LAIV) include mild:
  • Swelling at the site of the injection (inactivated only)
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Body ache
  • Fever
When should one get the flu vaccine?
As soon as it is available.
How many types of flu vaccines are there?
There are two types of flu vaccine. Inactivated and LAIV. The inactivated vaccine is given as a shot, generally in the arm, while the LAIV version is a nasal spray. The main difference between the two is that the inactivated, or the shot, contains dead viruses, whereas the LAIV version contains alive, but extremely weakened, viruses. Because of that, the spray is expected to be more effective in inducing an immune reaction than the shot.

Why is the flu vaccine different every year?
Two of the three flu viruses are responsible for causing flu, type A and type B. Type A has 16 subtypes, while Type B is not categorized by subtypes.  They both can mutate, especially type A which results in new strains every few years. Every given year, any combination of various strains of the various subtypes of A and of Type B can be in circulation and causing flu.
Every given year, both the LAIV and Inactivated vaccine contain three strains of influenza virus that are chosen each year based on what scientists predict will be the circulating viruses for the flu season. Given the long production times, it is impossible to know for sure which strains will be prevalent in the upcoming season, so every year scientists have to do their best to predict what they think will be the prevalent strains. Usually this process is done months ahead of the actual flu season. This is why the flu vaccine is different each year, and why we have to get re-vaccinated each year.
Which strains does the 2010 vaccine protect against?
Every year, the flu vaccine, protects against 3 specific strains of viruses that cause flu. The 2010 vaccine protects against two A viruses and one B virus. This year the vaccine protects against these 3 strains:
  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus (Swine Flu)
  • an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus
  • and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus
Can you get the flu from the flu vaccine?
No! You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. You may, however, experience some flu-like symptoms, which can be experienced from any vaccine in some cases and doesn’t have anything to do with the actual disease you’re being inoculated against.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on the strains in circulation and the strains the vaccine prevents from. When the vaccine viruses and circulating viruses are well-matched, the vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 70% to 90% in healthy adults.
Can you get the flu, even if you get vaccinated?
Yes. Firstly, as we already saw, the 3 strains in the flu vaccine have to be guessed in advance of the flu season. If there is a good match between the predicted strains and the actual strains in circulation, the vaccine will provide good protection. On the other hand, even if there is a perfect match, no vaccine is 100% effective, so even then a person who got vaccinated may still develop the flu. However, in general, people who are vaccinated experience milder symptoms than the non-vaccinated ones.
Who should get the flu vaccine?
Except for high risk groups that are advised to skip the vaccine, it is recommended that everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine.

Who should not get the flu vaccine?
Anyone with a severe allergy to eggs or egg products should not get a flu shot. Other people who should not get a flu shot include:
  • Infants under 6 months old.
  • Anyone who has had a severe reaction to a past flu shot or nasal spray.
  • Someone with Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • People with moderate to severe illness with a fever; they should be vaccinated after they have recovered.
How Long Am I Contagious After I Get the Flu?
You are contagious for up to seven days after the onset of the flu, although the flu virus can be detected in secretions up to 24 hours before the onset of symptoms. This means you might transmit the flu virus a full day before your flu symptoms begin.
In young children, the flu virus can still be spread in the secretions even into the second week of illness.
How Can I Prevent the Flu?
To prevent the flu, be sure to keep your hands clean — making sure to wash them frequently to remove germs — and get a flu shot. The CDC develops a flu vaccine based on the type A strain that they believe will be most prevalent in the coming flu season. This is the vaccine you get with the annual flu shot or FluMist nasal spray.
Give me some statistics please?
-Every year during flu season, 1 in 20 Americans will contract the disease. Some years incidence can be as high as 1/5.
-Annually there are about 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 23,600 annual deaths from the flu  in the US alone.



Sources
WebMD
Flu.gov

CDC Flu Website
World Health Organization Influenza Page

Vaccine Central: Indiana on track to highest whooping cough rates in 24 years

Let's see, what sort of silly arguments against this statistic will the antivax nutters try to come up with and lie on?  My bet will be the huge influx of immigrants to Indiana.

Indiana on track to highest whooping cough rates in 24 years

Indiana state officials are reporting  that Indiana is on track to see it’s highest whooping cough rates in 24 years. As of mid-September, the number of whooping cough cases reported to the Indiana State Department of Health for 2010 had surpassed 390, close to the total number for 2009, which had a total of 400 cases reported.
“Infants are the most vulnerable and they can die from the  disease,” said Dr. John Christenson, director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. “But teenagers and adults serve as the vectors for the disease, transmitting it to infants who have no immunity.”
A new state law this year requires all students in grades six through twelve to get a booster shot. For details in Indiana’s school immunization requirements, you can refer to the Q&A posted at the Indiana State Department of Health website.

Vaccine Central: Why fear of vaccination is spelling disaster in the developing world

I have been on the road these past few days, so I have some news to catch up on.  Again, the folks at Vaccine Central have done a great job combing through the nets for great info that I am going to post here.  I also found an article on Scientific American that I want to repost here.  Just bear with me as I get all these stories up.  So, the first one:

Why fear of vaccination is spelling disaster in the developing world


READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GUARDIAN
Anti-vaccination scares are as old as vaccination itself – but now they are putting lives at risk in the developing world



A child gets vaccinated, Ghana
Rumours about vaccines are threatening to derail vital health programmes in the developing world. Photograph: Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images


Vaccine scares are nothing new. When Edward Jenner first pioneered the use of the mild disease cow pox to innoculate against the deadly small pox in the 18th century, satirists drew cartoons of vaccinated patients sprouting cow’s heads. Now, it seems, every country in the developed world has their own type of scare. In France, protesters claim that the hepatitis B vaccines cause multiple sclerosis, in the US, that the vaccine’s mercury additives are responsible for the rise in autism. In the UK, there was a furore over whooping cough and then, famously, MMR. All have been exposed as groundless fears, yet anti-vaccine feeling continues to reverberate on the the internet. Now doctors warn that such rumours from the UK, Europe and the US are spilling over into the developing world, where they are threatening to derail global vaccination programmes. Terrifyingly, this means putting the lives of thousands of children at risk.
In South Africa, concerns about MMR, generated by coverage in the rest of the English-speaking world – including the UK – have led to an unwillingness to receive the vaccine, and there has been an outbreak of nearly 7,000 cases of measles. For children with poor health and limited access to medical services, this decision has been disastrous. There have already been hundreds of deaths.
Meanwhile, in India the government has recently overturned recommendations from its own scientific advisers to include the Hib (shorthand for a bug called Haemophilus influenzae) vaccine in its basic childhood programme, despite the fact that the World Health Organisation says that 20% of the 400,000 childhood deaths from pneumonias caused by Hib worldwide occur in India. In the UK, childhood Hib vaccination has seen Hib-caused meningitis (the more common Hib illness in the developed world) fall away to almost nothing. Yet Indian lobbying groups, led by opposition politicians, still claim that Hib vaccines are not only unnecessary, but have caused a number of deaths. The tactics of the Indian anti-Hib groups draw directly on the work of UK and US anti-vaccine websites.
Our anti-vaccine fears, and the groups set up to highlight them in the developed world, may not directly cause these problems, but are “fuelling and amplifying them”, according to Dr Heidi Larson of the vaccine programme and policy group at Imperial College London. Shockingly, just five minutes spent looking at websites critical of vaccines increases your perceptions of the risks, and reduces the perceptions of the risks of not being innoculated, according to a recent paper from a German group published in the Journal of Health Psychology. Rumours about vaccines quickly gain credence in the internet hothouse, with sites feeding off each other. Many sites will tell you that four girls in India died within 24 hours of receiving HPV vaccines. What they don’t say is that two died in road crashes, one from a snake bite, and one fell down a well. Add this rumour to the feeling that vaccination is something that is done to you by government, by global agencies or by big pharmaceutical companies, and conspiracy theories are virtually guaranteed.
So what can be done? So far, campaigners have insisted on more information, awareness and education. But this approach has failed. Instead, the idea of each country taking ownership is being explored, along with advocacy and immediate action to quell rumours.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE GUARDIAN

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Vaccine Central: Vaccine Preventable Death – Grant County Infant

Again, this is just so incredibly sad, and could have been prevented with just a little awareness and people getting shots that are safe, effective, and reliable...


Vaccine Preventable Death – Grant County Infant

Whooping cough has claimed the life of another infant, this time in Grant County, Seattle.
Grant County Public Health officials said they have two confirmed cases of whooping cough, or pertussis. Both reports were received this week but there doesn’t appear to be a connection between the two cases, said spokeswoman Theresa Fuller.
The infant, who was being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital, died Tuesday night, Fuller said. The other child is recovering at home.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of this baby,” said Dr. Alexander Brzezny, Grant County health officer.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

From Vaccine Central: Vaccine Times

I don't own a Kindle (yet), but this will be on there ASAP.  I am sending this out via ll the channels I can, you should too!

Introducing The Vaccine Times

For a while now, I have been hinting at a Super Secret Project I’ve been working on. It is finally time to unveil the secret. I give to you the first issue of  The Vaccine Times, a quarterly newspaper-like publication, for parents, by parents.

The goal is to get The Vaccine Times in front of as many parent eyeballs as possible. Nevertheless, that is not an easy task. Most parents don’t read skeptical blogs, or follow skeptics on Twitter. After much thinking, I’ve come up with the strategy that I think offers me the best chance to make The Vaccine Times successful: pediatricians.
Most parents will go to the pediatrician’s office on a regular basis. Most of them will be waiting in the waiting room and perusing whatever magazines the office offers them to peruse while waiting. So, all I have to get the printed version of The Vaccine Times into pediatrician’s offices. I have to get pediatricians to subscribe to the printed version of The Times, in order to expose parents, the end-goal of this whole exercise, to this information. That is much harder than it sounds!
The Vaccine Times, will always be available for free in PDF format to individuals. I hope to be able to use the subsciption-based, printed version as my ongoing source of revenue to fund the whole enterprise, but the main goal is to get this information to the parents, for free in electronic format, or for a fee if they choose to subscribe to the printed version.
That will not be easy, nor cheap to do. Printing publications such as this one, can’t be done on one’s home printer. Presentation is everything; if it doesn’t look professional it won’t be picked up. This first issue will be my test issue. I need all the feedback, comments and recommendations you can get me, about anything you can think off: design, layout, revenue generating activities, advertising, marketing, printing, editing and on, and on. And I am going to need support.
How can you support the Vaccine Times?
1 – If you are an individual, spread the word.  Print copies and leave them hanging around on the copy room at work, give them out at church, give one to your baby’s pediatrician and tell them you’d better have this available as reading material than People in their waiting room. Tweet about it; post an update on Facebook.
2 – If you own a Kindle, an indirect way to provide financial support is to subscribe to the Kindle Version of the Vaccine Central blog. It cost $1.99 per month, and I get a portion of it, although I’m not sure how much of that makes it to me yet. That money will be used to finance The Vaccine Times. And even if you don’t want to subscribe, leave a review of the blog at it’s Amazon Page.

3 – If you have any expertise with publishing, contact me at vaccinetimes@gmail.com, and let me know how you can become involved. If this is to grow, I’m going to need help. I currently, desperately need an experienced editor.

4 – If you work for a major skeptical organization, you can help. You can order a batch of 25, for about $200. That will allow me to print 50 copies. Your organization gets 25, and I get another 25 to send around to market The Vaccine Times to other organizations who may sign up for another 25 copies at the same price and so on. This way, your organization gets to support this enterprise and gets a few copies to give out at your local skeptical events. Yet another way your organization can help is by buying up some add space. Do you have a skeptical event, or something else you want to advertise? Send me the add in JPEG format and I’ll include it in the next run of the Times. I haven’t figured out a pricing structure yet, but as a starter I’ll go for $25 for a one-time quarter page add, or $50 for a one-time half page add.
I don’t have a price for a full page add. Since I am not setting up a not-profit, and cannot accept donations legally, I am thinking of using that option as a way for a sponsoring organization to support The Vaccine Times, without flat out donating money. Anyone who is interested in supporting through a full page add, contact me via e-mail and we’ll work out a reasonable price.
5 – If you are  a podcaster, plug the Vaccine Times in your podcast. If you are a blogger, link to this entry. If you are a commercially succesful podcaster or blogger, then you can support The Vaccine Times, by buying up a quarter-page, or a half-page add.

6 – I am using the free, open-source Scribus Desktop Publishing software to design The Times. If you can provide a copy of the Scribus manual, which sells for $45 on Amazon, that would help immensely. If you have a copy lying around that you no longer need, you can mail it to me. Contact me at vaccinetimes@gmail.com for arrangements.

7 – I am currently not soliciting monetary donations. I think that if this idea is to work, The Times will have to be able to stand on its own two feet. People have to get something for the money they give, be they individuals who are getting a blog they enjoy reading on their Kindle, or organizations who are willing to pay for a batch of the printed copies, because they enjoy the material.
8 – I need advice about Customer Relationship Management, best software for managing subscriptions, cheapest ways to accept Credit Card subscriptions from prospective customers and such. Free rules, for obvious reasons.

The next step is setting up the second issue by mid-December or so, and figuring out how to run a print publication in the mean time, from advertising and marketing, to CRM, to figuring out all the services that need to go in place to support the Times. This is going to get very messy, very soon, and unless I get some support from those of you in the skeptical community who have experience with this sort of thing, I will not succeed. And this is going to require a little start-up cash, in the range of at least $5,000 I estimate; and I have no idea where that will come from.
You can get in touch with me in various ways. E-mails can be sent to vaccinetimes@gmail.com OR leartshaka@zoho.com. You can leave a comment here on this blog entry, or you can send me messages on Twitter (@Skepdude). Please give all the feedback you can think off, especially I am interested in constructive criticism. We learn from our mistakes, not our successes so don’t hold back, point my mistakes out, ALL of them. You won’t hurt my feelings, I promise you that.
I will soon have an update with instructions on how to purchase add space, subscribe, mailing address, payment options (most likely it will initially be limited to Paypal and check or money order), and all that nice stuff. Until then, please spread the word about The Vaccine Times.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Vaccine Central: Vaccine Preventable Death – Joey Holt

Straight from Vaccine Central (and I bet Jenny McCarthy doesn't feel a bit of remorse):

Vaccine Preventable Death – Joey Holt

Age at death - 7 years
Cause of death – Complications from H1N1
Vaccination Status – Unvaccinated
What happened – In November 2009, Jessica Holt’s older son, Joey Holt, was sent home from school with a 103-degree fever. He complained of a stomach ache. Two days later, she took him to see a doctor, who sent them home with a prescription for antibiotics and a recommendation for fluids and rest.
That night, Joey kept vomiting. His skin was pale and felt like an ice cube, his mother said. She called 911. En route to the hospital, Holt watched as Joey’s heart rate dropped from 150 to 50 beats a minute.
He said, “I love you, Mama. Hold my hand.”
Then, “he was gone,” Holt said.
“If I had gotten my son Joey vaccinated, maybe he’d be here right now,” Holt said. “You don’t want to walk in my shoes. I live every day with that regret: Why didn’t I do it?”
My heart goes out to Jessica and her family; I am very sorry for your loss.
Sources
CNN Article
Facebook Cause Page
Daily Bulletin Obituary