Facts, not Fantasy

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Friday, December 31, 2010

About.com: Science Denial for Beginners

Normally I would put this over at my personal blog, but if you look at the methodology and roots of the anti-vax pro-disease movement, you see that they are cranks of the same order as many other denialists.  I thought this article would be a good one to share with folks here then, since one of the denialist targets is mentioned directly in the article.

Science Denial for Beginners - How to Deny Science

Denialism is growing problem in America today. We large numbers of citizens who are in denial about one or more basic fields of science: evolution, vaccinations, climatology, etc. Denial is a means by which people hold on to ideologies that are threatened by reality and preserve a sense of control over a world they cannot directly manage. Every form of denial tends to make use of the same tactics. This is may be because no matter what the topic, denialism stems from common mental processes.

1. Conspiracies Everywhere!

Being a denialist means not only being in a minority, but knowing that you are in a minority. You can't be an effective denialist if you don't understand that most people, and especially those with any sort of authority, disagree with you. Denialism requires that you be able to effectively explain this and the best way is also a time-honored one: it's a conspiracy!
No matter who disagrees with you and no matter what reasons they offer, the "real" reason is always that they are part of a massive conspiracy against you. There is a nefarious plot afoot which is designed to suppress the truth in the service of some ideology — an evil one, of course. This makes you a brave warrior fighting for truth, justice, and the people.

2. Cherry-Picking Evidence

It may become depressing to keep finding evidence that supports the conspirators' case, but if you're persistent enough you're bound to stumble across little nuggets of information which, if presented just right will appear to support the real truth. Yes, it's strange that the truth wouldn't be more obviously supported by the evidence but this is just one more sign of the extent to which the conspiracy against the truth has been successful. The lack of obvious evidence is proof that the world needs you to cherry-pick any evidence you can find.

3. Logical Fallacies

If you allow your arguments to be limited to the rules of logic, you'll be playing by the rules of the conspirators — and when you do that, you're almost guaranteeing that you'll lose. That would be unacceptable! You have a duty to truth that far outweighs any minor importance that logic might have. This means that if you think you can better make your case with a logical fallacy, then you shouldn't hesitate to do so. Most people don't have a clue about logic or logical fallacies anyway, so the chance that anyone will notice is small. Convincing more people of the truth is what matters, not how you do it.

4. Fake Experts

Despite the fact that all the most important authority figures are part of the evil conspiracy against you, it's only natural that you'll develop some envy for the credibility that their authority brings them. You can counter this by creating your own fake experts — and it's OK to have "fakes" since it's really in the service of a "truth" that's being suppressed. Most people don't know the different between legitimate experts and fake experts anyway, so what's the harm? It's better to use fake experts who have no real authority or expertise than to let the truth be silence any longer.

5. Impossible Standards

Given the size and power of the conspiracy against you, it would be unwise to play fair. Remember that the conspirators are try to suppress the truth and that it's your job to stop them. You shouldn’t make it easy on them by giving them easy standards of evidence or logic to meet. Instead, you should make the standards impossible, always making things harder if they ever appear to be coming close to the demands you place on them. The harder you make things on the conspirators, the harder it will be for them to maintain their lies.

6. When in Doubt, Encourage Doubt

Sometimes you won't be able to convince people of the truth, but you can at least get them to doubt the conspiracy that is so popular. Preventing them from being blindly convinced of the lies spread by the conspirators is itself a victory! Get people to believe that the so-called "authority figures" don't all agree with each other. Get people to believe that there is equal evidence for both sides. Prey upon people's sense of "fair play" by hyping the importance of teaching "both sides" of any debate. It doesn't matter whether you really believe any of this; what matters is that the interests of the truth are furthered.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vaccine Times: Qualifications? Schmalifications!

A bit of an opinion piece in prose.  Something that I have been an advocate of for a long time.  Suppose I could add a line about asking a bad actress, and former playboy bunny, for medical advice?

Qualifications? Schmalifications!

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT SHELLITY.BLOGSPOT.COM

Because there’s no such thing as a Masters of Pretending to be Useful.

Would you want a clown to check your teeth? A vet to fix your car?
A rectal surgeon mixing cocktails at your favourite bar?
Would you fire your accountant and use tap dancers instead?
How about a chaplain messing ‘round inside your kiddie’s head?

Would you ask a mime to paint your house? A chef to groom your pet?
A famous escapologist to fly a jumbo jet?
Would you ask a Weimaraner for directions to the station?
Or a farmer’s wife and mother for advice on vaccination?

Would you trust a pimp to cut your hair? A nun to make your tea?
A prima ballerina to re-format your CV?
Would you trust your local chippie to negotiate world peace?
Or a self-proclaimed clairvoyant to advise the state police?

When a child needs trauma counselling, he doesn’t need a priest.
See a doctor for good health advice, or clinic nurse at least.
Even dogs help murder cases more than useless psychic woo,
So if you need help, choose somebody who’s got a frikkin’ clue.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT SHELLITY.BLOGSPOT.COM

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vaccine Times: 4-year old NY boy dead of flu-related pneumonia

Again, if the anti-vax pro-disease nutters had any empathy, they would be at every single one of these funerals...  Instead, folks like us who know what real science says about vaccines mourn the unnecessary loss of life.

4-year old NY boy dead of flu-related pneumonia

A 4-year old New Rochelle boy has died of a flu-related pneumonia infection, according to the Westchester County Health Department. The boy fell ill in November; he was previously healthy and had not not received the flu vaccine this year.
“Any death is tragic, especially in one so young,” said Dr. Cheryl Archbald, acting commissioner of health. “The best protection we have against influenza is the annual flu shot, which is recommended for individuals six months of age and older.”
The flu sounds innocuous however, in some instances it can lead to life-threatening complications, pneumonia being one of them. Vaccination is the best protection we have against the flu. Please refer to the CDC website about the flu, or my previous FAQ blog entry about it.

Our hearts and thoughts go to the family of the little boy; we are very sorry for your loss.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vaccine Times: New Meningitis Vaccine Brings Hope of Taming a Ravaging Illness in Africa

I love it when science does things like this.  There are millions of people that just don't see any hope, and most are doomed to die young, or lead horribly crippled lives.  No one seems to care, and pretty much any other segment of humanity has nothing for them.  And then there is science!  And the thing is, with our understanding of evolution, these sort of advances are actually possible.  If we didn't use evolution as a bedrock of biology, none of this would be possible.

New Meningitis Vaccine Brings Hope of Taming a Ravaging Illness in Africa

Published: December 4, 2010
JOHANNESBURG — For over a century, epidemics of bacterial meningitis have swept across Africa, arriving with the dry harmattan winds to kill with terrifying speed. But on Monday, a drive starts to inoculate tens of millions of West Africans with a new vaccine in what scientists hope will be the beginning of the end of ravaging meningitis epidemics.
The aim is for these immunization campaigns to spread from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, bringing the disease under control and saving an estimated 150,000 lives by 2015 in a belt of 25 nations that girds the continent.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are still needed to accomplish that goal, public health officials say. But the meningitis vaccine itself is a milestone in developing inexpensive vaccines against neglected diseases that afflict poor countries, experts say.
More than a million cases of meningitis have been reported in Africa over the past two decades, and the vaccine works against the group A meningitis strain that causes more than 8 out of 10 cases on the continent. Moreover, it costs less than 50 cents a dose. In the United States, Novartis and Sanofi Pasteur market a single dose of meningitis vaccines against multiple strains of the disease for $80 to $100.
“Wow, that’s remarkable!” exclaimed Dr. Gregory A. Poland, head of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, when he heard how little the new vaccine would cost.
Bill Gates, whose foundation largely financed the endeavor, contrasted the undertaking with the development of vaccines for measles, smallpox and polio.
“All those things were created because rich people got sick,” he said in an interview. “This is the first vaccine that went through the whole process where there was no rich world market, and it had to be optimized at a very low price.”
The meningitis vaccine relies on a technology that was devised by researchers at the Food and Drug Administration and donated by the United States government at the cost of only token royalties. It is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, a major vaccine producer, and it was developed independently of the major American and European pharmaceutical companies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vaccine Times: Polio death toll in Congo surpasses 200

Polio? Wasn't that nearly eradicated?  Well, yes it IS, in areas where people get the vaccine!  Of course, the anti-vax pro-disease nutters don't think that preventing death is worth the risk, however imagined it may be.  And I must quote a blogger by the name of Science Mom that had this scathing and accurate observation:  If you go to some of the anti-vax sites, it's like watching 7 year old children having a conversation about sex. The wild speculation, with merely grains of fact to work with, lead to frightening results!  How true!  I think this may be one of my favorite quotes in a long time!  Expect to see it a lot.

Polio death toll in Congo surpasses 200

The death toll from the polio outbreak in Congo has surpassed 200, according to the UNICEF. When I last reported on this outbreak, a little over a month ago, the death toll was a little under 100, and it has doubled in a little over a month. A three-round emergency immunization campaign was launched in the wake of the outbreak. This week marks the end of the second wave of the campaign with thousands of health workers and volunteers working hard to vaccinate the entire population, regardless of gender, age or past immunization status. Most of the victims so far have been in the age range of 15-29 years.

The good news is that the number of new cases appears to be slowing and the mortality rate has decreased slightly, from 47% at the beginning of the outbreak, to 42% in the beginning of December, but the situation is still worrying. UNICEF has procured 18 million doses of Oral Polio Vaccine to be used in the campaign, but the logistics of actually reaching all the population are daunting to say the least.
Vaccinating a whole population is not an overnight task and comes at a cost,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Dr. Gianfranco Rotigliano, who visited Pointe Noire to support the nationwide campaign.
More funds are needed for the third wave of vaccinations which are scheduled for January.
With the support of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, $4.5 million in funding has already been committed, in addition to a government allocation of $2 million. UNICEF is seeking an additional $3 million to support the third round of the campaign in early January.
Given how world governments waste hundreds of billions in much less worthwhile projects, I can only hope that raising the $3 million needed for the third wave will not be a problem. The payoff in saved human lives and reduced suffering will be immense.

Lastly, more kudos to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, yet again in the thick of things right where help is needed most. They are true pro-health heroes in my book; donating their time, efforts and huge, huge amounts of cash to help those people who need it most.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Vaccine Times Oct-Dec 2010 Issue

Just doing my part to spread the word about this great project.  If there is any support that you can offer, even just sharing this link around, please do so.

The Vaccine Times Oct-Dec 2010 Issue

Hello dear friends; The Vaccine Times team would like to wish you a happy and safe holiday season. It is with great pleasure that we share with you the brand new, second issue of The Vaccine Times (Oct-Dec 2010). Please click the image below to download.


The Vaccine Times Oct-Dec 2010

Your continued help and support is still needed

Over the past few months we have received a lot of support from friends, such as yourself, in the pro-health community. Interest in our publication has been fairly high and the feedback has been positive. We are extremely happy to inform you that we have surpassed 100 free subscribers, on target with the goal we had set for us for the second issue. The number of subscribers to the free e-mail list is crucial, if we are to attract prospective customers who might want to buy ad space, so the new goal is to reach 200 by the next issue. You all can help us meet this goal by spreading the word in the Internet, via Facebook, Twitter, websites and blogs.

However, the Times is not yet financially viable; we have been unable to secure any funding so far, which would allow us to spread the pro-health message to the largest audience possible. As such, we extend an appeal to any organized skeptical, medical or other organizations in the pro-health community who want to support our efforts and help use make the print Vaccine Times a reality by advertising with us. If we can raise just $1,000, that would guarantee printing and mailing of the smallest order the printing company will accept, for one full year. Anything over that would possibly enable us to advertise in some other print publication and help us reach prospective paid subscribers. Anything over that goes towards my yacht.

What is new with The Vaccine Times

Since the first issue was released, this website has been set up, which also replaces the Vaccine Central Blog. We are also present on Twitter as @VaccineTimes. The Vaccine Times blog is available now, as a subscription for Amazon Kindle. We are also thinking about setting up The Vaccine Times newspaper as a Kindle publication, although we might need some help from people with XML skills to help us set it up properly. If you have skills in that area, please get in touch with us.

An online Cafepress store for Vaccine Times branded merchandise is now available; you can support the project by purchasing merchandise bearing our designs. A small commission fee goes our way, so if you feel that is something you’d like to do please visit our store.

We are working to have everything in place to start taking print subscription orders at the beginning of the year 2011. We hope that between ad revenue, subscription revenue and merchandise revenue we will generate enough funds to make The Vaccine Times viable. Please keep an eye on the blog and on Twitter for announcements regarding paid subscriptions.

You can help

We are very grateful for your support so far, without it we would’ve probably called it quits a while back. Nevertheless, you can do more, at very little cost to you, to help us. Besides subscribing to the paid printed version when it becomes available, there are a few other things you can do to help us that will not cost you anything (besides a few minutes of your time). Here is a short list:
  • Share ideas on how to reach our target market – As you may know, our target market for the paid print Times are pediatricians and other medical professionals. We need ideas about where to get a usable list of pediatricians, and how to go about reaching out to them, all while keeping in mind that cost is a major limiting factor at the present time. Any idea is welcome, no matter how remote you might think it is; please e-mail us at vaccinetimes@gmail.com .
  • Subscribe to the Vaccine Times blog RSS feed – If you use an RSS aggregator to stay in touch with the latest news, please consider adding The Vaccine Times feed to your list. It is free, and a growing number of subscribers, and hopefully commenters, does wonders for motivation.
  • Follow @VaccineTimes on Twitter- Twitter is the best way for us to communicate with each other. We do not want to abuse the privilege of having your e-mail address on our list by inundating you with too many e-mails. Twitter makes it easy to send out small announcements and requests. If you have a Twitter account, following @VaccineTimes takes literally 5 seconds. If you do not have a Twitter account, you should consider setting one up. It is free, and it is a great way to stay in touch.
  • Spread the word – Post a Facebook update with a link to vaccinetimes.com; post a Twitter message with the same content; 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 Magazine in their waiting room etc.
  • If you work for a major skeptical, or other pro-health, organization – You can help by convincing your organization to:
    • Order a batch of 25 (or more), for about $200 (or more), and hand them out at your next local event (e-mail vaccinetimes@gmail.com for details)
    • Purchase some add space. Do you have a skeptical event, or some other event, you want to advertise? Send us the ad in JPEG format and we’ll include it in the next run of the Times. Check out this link for current prices.
    • If you are a podcaster, plug the Vaccine Times in your podcast (and let us know so we can return the favor on the blog).
    • If you are a blogger, link to vaccinetimes.com.
    • If you are a commercially successful podcaster or blogger, then you can support The Vaccine Times, by buying up a quarter-page, half-page, or full-page ad.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vaccine Times: Why The Controversy? Vaccines Save Lives

A question I ask myself all the time!  It is a FACT that vaccines save lives.  Yet the lies and distortions of the anti-vax pro-disease nutters are killing people, mostly children.  And they think that they are performing some sort of public service...  While I am a staunch supporter of free speech, I abhor "free lies" and these people need to be silenced and exposed for the charlatans they are.  They are not entitled to their own facts, and that's what they think they have with each lie they spread.

Why The Controversy? Vaccines Save Lives

On December 16, 2010, in ALL POSTS, NEWS, by Leart Shaka
Now that flu season is almost upon us, debate rages about the safety and necessity of vaccinations. Molecular biologist Adam J. Ruben says the flu shot is not only safe and necessary for you but is vital for the health of the public.

A few weeks ago, my sister asked a simple yes-no question on her Facebook page: She wrote, “should I get the flu shot?” She might as well have posted, “should I fillet this kitten?” Friends replied in droves, arguing every aspect of what, in this country, has become a fierce and unnecessary debate.

Last year, when H1N1 reared its head, the public demanded a quick, safe, reliable way to prevent the disease. “Here,” said science. “We’ve made this vaccine!” And the public said, “Eh … what else have you got?”
The government bought about 200 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine and worried whether these would be enough. But many sat unused, and tens of millions of doses were incinerated when they expired this summer. Now, there’s nothing unusual about a vaccine surplus being destroyed, but I was struck, both last year and this year, by what the destruction represented: that millions of people — with the vaccine widely available — had chosen to forgo the shot and tough it out on their own.

I happen to think vaccines are the single greatest invention of humankind. In the middle of the 20th century, the world saw 50 million cases of smallpox every year. Thirty years later, thanks to a successful vaccination campaign, that number fell to — and has remained at — zero.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vaccine Times: Measles kills 11 children in Pakistan

One thing that really dismays me about Americans is that they could generally care less about the goings on in the rest of the world.  Especially if something horrible is going on outside of Europe, and there seems to be a general consensus to ignore stuff if people suffering have a different skin colour compared to most Americans.

A recent measles outbreak has killed 11 children in Pakistan’s district of Dadu, according to Spero News. Health workers in the affected area have demanded new immunization centers to reach as many children as possible. Fortunately it appears the situation is under control, and over 4,000 children in the area have been vaccinated during the last couple of weeks in November. One woman in the affected area, has already lost 3 of her 4 children to the outbreak:
Gulann watches with empty eyes as the WHO doctors check the children’s arms for the vaccination mark. Her five year old daughter Sapona, half asleep, holds her tightly, as if afraid that she too would vanish from her life. Gulann has lost three of her four children in the measles outbreak, and Sapona all her siblings. Despite the sadness that grips everyone in Karapur, the women bring colorful fabrics and drop them on a “charpai” – a low wide hammock- for their WHO guests to sit, attesting the resilience of Pakistani hospitality. Dr Laghari uses the charpai as his examining coach to check Sapona’s temperature, her skin and her arm. “She is doing fine, and she has been vaccinated”, he says, his face openly relieved.
Gulann explains to the team that she had brought her kid to a doctor in the fish market “Aneela, woke up one day with a high fever and diarrhoea, and then I saw that she could not breath normally, I knew it was bad so I took her to the doctor. He gave her medication and admitted her in the hospital but she died. Ayaz and Kajul got sick later, and they died last week. They were not even admitted to the Hospital”. Too often hospitals are overcrowded and do not have a proper isolation room for contagious diseases. Admitting a case of measles could put at risk the rest of the patients. Gulann looks at her daughter with painstriken eyes “I have only Sapona left with me now” she whispers, caressing her daughter’s fingers softly.
I cannot hardly imagine a greater pain than what this mother must be living through right now; words fail me. Children shouldn’t be dying of a vaccine preventable disease, no matter where in the world they happen to live; and those lucky enough to live in countries where a live-saving shot is but a short car ride away should think twice before denying it to their children and putting their lives at the same risk, Gulann’s children’s were. Please, stop playing Russian Roulette with your children’s lives.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vaccine Times: Flu "fatigue"

KALAMAZOO — The Welch family of Comstock Township is spending this Thanksgiving together, and that situation, they agree, is really something to be thankful for.

Last Thanksgiving Day, Amie Welch was sitting at her daughter Cailey’s bedside in Bronson Methodist Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Welch had just been released from the hospital herself, having spent a month on a ventilator, but Cailey, then 10 years old and admitted just a day after her mother, was far sicker.
It wasn’t some exotic disease that laid both mother and daughter so low. It was the flu.

At times during her six-month hospital stay, Cailey’s survival was in doubt. “Several times, sitting in her room, we were watching them lose her,” Welch said.

Cailey was on a ventilator for months, and the high air pressure needed to keep her alive did serious damage to her lungs, her mother said. “Her lungs will be always be scarred from that,” Welch said.

Cailey, who turned 11 in January, still requires oxygen 12 to 14 hours a day, her mother said, and it’s administered through her nose. “We don’t go anywhere without it,” Welch said.

Cailey also has had “surgery after surgery” to remove tissue that had built up as a result of a tracheotomy she received in the hospital, her mother said. The tissue has to be removed before the tracheostomy stoma can be closed.

Cailey has not been able to return to school at Kalamazoo’s Edison Environmental Science Academy, where she would have been in sixth grade. Instead, she is schooled through a program for homebound students run by the Kalamazoo Regional Educational and Service Agency (KRESA).

Amie Welch, 34, has suffered permanent lung damage, too, although Cailey’s is much worse, she said. “I have a little bit of scar tissue that will always be there,” she said. Its impact is that she becomes winded very easily.

Because of their experiences, the Welches have been working with the American Lung Association to spread the word about the importance of getting flu shots. Amie Welch said she agreed to share their story because “if anything good could come out of what we had to go through, we want that to happen.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vaccine Times: Pro-health website of the day : The History of Vaccines

Pro-health website of the day : The History of Vaccines

On December 15, 2010, in ALL POSTS, NEWS, by Leart Shaka
Our pro-health website of the day is The History of Vaccines a website set up by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States. Its mission includes: “to increase public knowledge and understanding of the ways in which vaccines, toxoids, and passive immunization work, how they have been developed, and the role they have played in the improvement of human health.” a very worthwhile goal in my opinion. The site is very attractive visually and has loads of great information, and my personal favorite is the Timelines portion of the page which provides a nice visual of the history of vaccines and a great jumping point to do further more in-depth research.  I encourage everyone to bookmark and to peruse this most excellent website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vaccine Times: Some celebrities get science and reason

I have often been amazed at how much we Americans listen to celebrities...  And how much stock we put in the words of people whose job it is to portray a non-reality.  That is probably to say that the best way to describe an actor is someone who is paid a lot of money to make you sincerely believe the lie he is portraying on the screen.  Think about it.  So when they make outrageous claims about something, why is there so much stock placed in what they say?  Is it because we are predisposed to believe them?  Well, sadly, too many celebrities with their limited (i.e. non-existent) education in medicine and biology will say and endorse the craziest of things.  So I can only say that it is refreshing to sometimes hear some of these folks that actually understand that.

Some celebrities get science and reason

On December 14, 2010, in ALL POSTS, NEWS, Polio, by Leart Shaka
While we bemoan the lack of critical thinking displayed by our celebrities (McCarthy and vaccines, Shaq and PowerBalance rubber bands, Oprah and, well everything) Amitabh Bachchan, a huge Bollywood star, has writen an article for The Times of India, about the polio eradication efforts in India, and he displays the kind of understanding of the issue, the dangers of the disease and the benefits of the vaccines, that we can only dream off form some of our celebrities, here in the U.S.
In just over half a century, we have made massive progress in protecting our children from polio. It’s paying off. Today, on this World Polio Day, we are closer than ever to eliminating this terrible disease from India.
In just one short paragraph, Mr. Bachchan shows a deeper understanding than most anti-vaxers: he realizes how terrible these diseases can be; they don’t.
Polio cripples and kills. Children face many threats, but this is one that we can prevent forever right now.
True, unless you’re Meryl Dorey of the AVN of course; she maintains these diseases don’t kill, maybe she’s never heard of India.
We know what works. When the polio eradication campaign started, India was reporting 500 polio cases per day. Since then, more than 40 lakh children have been saved from paralysis. You have seen me, cricketers and other public figures on television, urging everyone to join the immunization effort. In the last few years, there has been a marked increase in the number of parents who ensure their children are immunized. Thousands of dedicated health workers travel great distances to take vaccines to remote areas. All of this has had tremendous impact along with support from government leaders and increased surveillance to track and stop the polio virus. So far this year, we have seen only 39 polio cases — down from 741 in 2009. But as we know, India’s eradication campaign still faces a variety of challenges. If not addressed, we will be unable to keep our children safe
One lakh is equal to 100,000; when the math is done, this means that more than 4 million children have been saved from paralysis in India alone, since the start of the polio eradication campaign; a rousing success that even the most rabid anti-vaccine proponent cannot ignore. When compared to the very few cases of vaccine derived polio paralysis, the cost-benefit ratio is substantially on the side of vaccination.
Through our success, we will prove that India is serious about defeating polio once and for all — for the sake of the children, and for the sake of the world.
How refreshing to hear the words “for the sake of the world”; they display an understanding that one’s actions affect others, and no-one lives in a bubble. Compare that with the anti-vaxers “argument” that we shouldn’t vaccinate for polio in the US; after all we haven’t registered a case of wild poliovirus for decades. I guess they haven’t heard of airplanes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Intermittent Posting

Just got a little bit of advertising from some friends on facebook.  Thank you.  I do want to make sure that people click on the link that takes you to http://factsnotfantasy.com which is the main page.  That is where you will find some relevant, although more static, information about both vaccines and evolution.

Vaccines:  As I have often said, the anti-vax pro-disease nutters will tell any lie they can make up in order to promote their dangerous agenda.  The main menu tab has a pretty well laid out page that counters some of the most egregious of their lies.  Sadly, it's hard to keep up with lies since people are just randomly making crap up.  But this should give you an idea as to how weak their position is.  In the sub-menu section, I think DEATHS is the most important page to visit.

Evolution:  The fact that this page is needed is just a sad testament to the influence of bronze age fairy tales in today's society.  No one argues gravity or tries to promote "intelligent falling" yet we have this argument over and over again.  The theory of evolution is as close to a fact that science can have at this point.  The denialism involved in this just staggers the mind.  Of the sub menu pages, I think Creationists, read this! is my favorite.

Also, I am always open for others to join this blog to contribute.  Feel free to drop me a line and I will add you to the list of authors.  Thank you.

Not Exactly Rocket Science: I’ve got your missing links right here

I’ve got your missing links right here (11th December 2010)


Top ten picks
You’ll need a New Yorker subscription for the full article, but honestly, Jonah Lehrer’s piece – The Truth Wears Off – is worth it. It is deeply fascinating and deeply troubling. In discussing the fact that many scientific results wither away when replicated, Lehrer writes, “The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything.” It makes me want to include a photo of Jonah next to all my pieces saying “Oh REALLY?” Meanwhile, Discover has a related piece on the “streetlight effect”.

“The Antikythera Mechanism is the oldest known scientific computer, built in Greece at around 100 BCE. Lost for 2000 years, it was recovered from a shipwreck in 1901. But not until a century later was its purpose understood: an astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies with extraordinary precision. In 2010, we built a fully-functional replica out of Lego.” Massive congratulations to John Pavlus, Adam Rutherford and Andy Carol for their astounding work. Read the “making of” post at John’s site.
The mice with two dads: Mickey and Jerry have produced baby mice with no mothers.

This is absolutely incredible. You can work out the entire genome of an unborn foetus using a blood sample from mum.

Brandon Keim has done a wonderful job with this community-funded investigation into white nose syndrome – the mysterious disease killing off American bats.

“They say, rather ingenuously, that if you have Alzheimer’s it’s the best form of Alzheimer’s to have. This is a moot point.” Terry Pratchett on his disease.

Chinese scientists dress up as pandas. As Neil Withers said on Twitter, maybe all pandas are scientists in suits. Picture 3 is especially wonderful. “The researchers wear panda costumes to ensure that the cub’s environment is devoid of human influence.” You mean, except for the plastic boxes and the human in a massive, stinky panda suit?

“All this work certainly builds a strong circumstantial case that the Oriental hornets have indeed evolved an organic solar collector—perhaps not photosynthetic in the usual sense, but something similar.” The solar-powered hornets are back in the news and John Rennie has a measured take on the paper.

What happens when an alligator bites an electric eel? The same thing that happens to everything else (nods at X-Men film).

The first MRI scan of a baby during birth reveals that babies look like the aliens from Mars Attacks.
More after the jump…

News/writing/stuff
“A female messenger could attract a more diverse crowd, including other women. The point of punditry is often to persuade people that science is worthwhile and, more to the point, deserves funding… Women should stand shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues to make this happen.” Jenny Rohn has a great Nature piece on why female researchers should speak out in the media.

Hobbits shared their islands with giant storks.

Cancer villages” in Turkey could help to stave off a public health disaster in North Dakota.

I need a hero. “The goal of the project is simple: to put decades of experimental research to use in… churning out good guys with the same efficiency that gangs and terrorist groups produce bad guys.”

Mountain gorilla numbers “soar” by 26%. For perspective, there are now 480 rather than 380. My office floor has more people than that.

Mary Carmichael profiles Harvard geneticist George Church. As with all her stuff on personal genomics, it’s joyous.

Have a listen to Adam Rutherford’s radio documentary on epigenetics (will only work for Brits, I think).
Carl Zimmer alerts to a free series of online lectures where you can learn about astrobiology. A great, great resource.

Kirghiz tribesmen of central Asia use golden eagles to hunt and kill wolves. What? You don’t?

As species disappear, infectious diseases rise in humans and throughout the animal kingdom, so extinctions directly affect our health and chances for survival as a species.” Oh dear.

While I aspire to both, Obesity Panacea tells me that sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little
“Maybe there’s a gene for the belief that genes can explain everything. If so, I’m missing it.“ Casey Schwartz goes over the lamentable coverage of the “slut gene

3D without the headaches, thanks to “The I”. Frank Swain reports.

A fascinating look at weird, arcane world of dinosaur-naming (and why it hasn’t caught up with the web)
Scorpions glow in the dark to detect moonlight? Well it’s one idea, anyway.

“The starfish have effectively done a lot of the hard work for us” Non-stick starfish could inspire new anti-inflammation medicines

Did asteroids deliver bling to Earth? “It could have just have easily not have happened, and then you wouldn’t be wearing a gold ring after your wedding”

The world’s most expensive book sold for 10 million dollars, and it’s a natural history classic – JJ Audobon’s Birds of America. I’ve always loved the wonderful contorted poses for the long-necked species.

Neuroscience – it will not help you design the right kitchen. But can it help me pick between 235 virtually identical shades of creamy white paint?

No evidence of time before Big Bang. (I’m crap at physics and I can’t even remember what I did last Tuesday, so just imagine how painful this is for me…)

It’s not looking good for coral reefs.

This is why your iPod battery wears out: charging makes nanowires dance and deform (on video, no less)
Then and Now: repeat photography captures changing landscapes

Flying on a laser. I love this because the practical applications are unknown. It’s just “neat”.

Everest is littered with dead, exposed bodies. Warning, there are lots of graphic photos.

Huh/wow/heh
Here’s a list of different things by length, across several orders of magnitude. I love Wikipedia so much.
Remember that hilarious paper on writer’s block? It has been replicated.

Ageing Kazakhstan President asks scientists to find fountain of youth. You can practically hear him yelling, “What’s taking so long?!”

Two penguins re-enact Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. And ducklings get blown off their feet by the wind

Wow. Look at the Sun’s massive “prominence”. It’s a million kilometres across. I have flare envy.

The Daily Mash: Assange to escape from police at the top of some stairs

RCT = Randomised Crocodile Touching

XKCD’s complete map of optimal tic-tac-toe moves

Jeremy Hunt gets renamed on live radio. You might also enjoy this list of top 13 howlers.

“Cortical response to electrical stimulation in human rectum”. No wonder they only recruited 17 volunteers.
This blog goes into a scary level of detail on the legal implications of living in a world of superheroes and supervillains

Blogging/internet/journalism
Say hi to Jenny Rohn, Richard Grant, Henry Gee, Cath Ennis, Dr Aust, Erika Cule, Stephen Curry, Frank Norman and more at their new blogging network – Occam’s Typewriter.

Journalism gets a lot of criticism, but seldom with any data behind it. This, therefore, is good. Scientists rated the accuracy of news stories about cancer genetics. Overall, the scores were middling but press release claims were more likely to be accurate than those in news stories. The study also highlights the importance of external quotes.

I wrote 33,000 words in November. Also, my posts are three times longer than the average blogger. Science3.0 has some interesting data on blogger productiveness.

The most horrific newspaper correction of all time. I think I threw up a little bit.

Can you defame someone with a hyperlink?

So, Wikileaks. Umberto Eco has a wonderful piece on Wikileaks, positing that we’re in a bizarrely recursive Orwellian world where the state watches its citizens and the citizens watch the state. John Naughton has a great piece on why we need to live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. Emily Bell has a great post on how Wikileaks has woken up journalism. And finally, the Atlantic: if you absolutely positively have to know what to think about Wikileaks, accept no substitutes.

The Guardian wrote that “just one British black Caribbean student was admitted to Oxford last year.” A case of discrimination? No, a salutary lesson in statistics. Seamus McCauley brings the true analysis at virtualeconomics.co.uk.

And finally… absolutely wonderful. Media mistakes and corrections of the year. Cooks Source, Climategate, plus many other hilarious examples.

Vaccine Times: Pro-health website of the day: Every Child By Two

Pro-health website of the day: Every Child By Two

On December 6, 2010, in ALL POSTS, by Leart Shaka
Every Child By Two, which can be found at ecbt.org is our pro-health website of the day. It is chock full of  important information. For instance, did you know that every $1 spent on vaccinations saves $6.30 in direct medical costs, for a total savings of over $10 Billion per year? Neither did I, and that is only counting direct medical savings; once you factor in total societal savings it goes up to $18.40, producing societal aggregate savings of $42 billion.

Here is the kind of useful information one can find at this website (I apologize the formatting did not carry over you can click here to see the source of this information). I encourage all to peruse the website and learn as much of these facts as possible, to use them to counter all the anti-vaccine misinformation out there, in the fight for our children’s health.

Childhood Vaccines Save Lives and Money

  • Routine childhood immunization
    • 33,000 deaths prevented
    • $43 billion saved
Disease
Cases Prevented
Deaths Prevented
Diphtheria
247,212
24,721
Tetanus
146
22
Pertussis
2,614,874
1,008
Polio
60,974
723
Measles
3,433,036
2,794
Mumps
2,095,917
11
Rubella
1,784,030
14
CRS
602
66
Hib
17,469
661
Hepatitis B
207,353
3,024
Varicella
3,788,807
57
Total
13,622,004
33,101
For every $1 spent:
DTaP saves2
$27.00
MMR saves3
$26.00
H. Influenza type b saves4
$5.40
Perinatal Hep B saves5
$14.70
Varicella saves6
$5.40
Inactivated Polio (IPV) saves7
$5.45
Sources
1 Zhou, et al., Arch PediatrAdolescMed, 159(Dec 2005):1136-1144
2 Ekwuemeet al, Arch PediatrAdolescMed, 154(Aug 2000): 797-803
3 Zhou, et al., J Infect Dis, 189(2004): S131-145
4 Zhou, et al., Pediatrics, 110:4(Oct 2002): 653-661
5 Zhou, et al., CDC unpublisheddata
6 Lieu, et al., JAMA, 271(1994): 375-81
7 Zhou, et al., CDC unpublished data Childhood

Vaccine Times: Repeat after me: Scientists do science, politicians...


Don’t do science. Sounds simple enough, yet for some reasons it needs to be spelled out to the anti-vax crowd. In typical, reason be damned fashion, the nice folks at InsideVaccines are riled up, because some politician proposed a law which allows adoptive parents to have their recently adopted kids vaccinated in the US as opposed to their country of birth to avoid “exposing their adoptive children to unsafe immunizations in foreign countries.”
The bill also allows U.S. parents adopting foreign-born children to safely immunize their children in the United States within 30 days of their arrivals, rather than have to subject their children to potentially unsafe immunizations in foreign nations. Previously, parents who adopted internationally were frequently required to immunize their children before bringing them to the United States.
Of course, whenever a politician says something, it is guaranteed that they have done all the research, contacted all the authorities and experts in the field, because, obviously, the last thing a politician ever wants to do is to make factually incorrect statements. Therefore, it is perfectly justified, for an anti-vaxer at least, to take a simple sentence uttered by a politician and run with it. Because what better authority on foreign vaccine safety than a U.S. Senator, right?
We can only hope that all those foreign nations don’t pick up on this news story and wonder why it is okay for children who are remaining in Africa, Asia, South America or Eastern Europe to receive unsafe vaccines.
I hope the French and English don’t get a wind of this; we’d be screwed. What about Canada? Would they be considered foreign? Why is the US hogging all the safe vaccines? Selfish bastards! Well, exposing this travesty is not enough; the anti-vaxers now will fantasize, I mean get to the bottom of the reason why the foreign vaccines are so unsafe, they caught the eye of a U.S. politician.
There are, of course, two obvious answers to why these vaccines are unsafe.
1) Needle re-use.
2) Mercury content. Due to a lack of refrigeration and a shortage of money, most vaccines in the developed world come in 10 dose vials, preserved with that wonderful, inexpensive toxin, thimerosal.
Of course, why the hell not; since we’re making stuff up I think another reason foreign vaccines are unsafe is that people on the other side of the world are hanging upside down. Now, someone who was honestly trying to hypothesize a real reason why vaccines in some foreign countries might not be as safe as those in developed countries (let us entertain the idea for the moment), might have come up with a third logical reason: inappropriate storage and usage after expiration date, but that would make Option #2 sound less plausible and scary, so it is conveniently left out. After all, they KNOW that thimerosal causes autism and are just waiting for the science to catch up with Jenny McCarthy.

The funny thing is that, if the anti-vaxxers want to rely on what the politician says about vaccines, they must then concede that vaccines in the U.S. are safe; after all the politician is saying the children should not receive the unsafe foreign vaccines, but get vaccinated here. Therefore, U.S. vaccines are safe and Age of Autism will be closing up shop and InsideVaccines will officially change their website to Inside-Foreign-Vaccines-US-vaccines-are-not-a-problem.com.

I wouldn’t count on that happening though. See, that is the beauty of cherry-picking, they pick the parts they want to and completely ignore the other parts, or logic for that matter.

Vaccine Times: U.S. whooping cough update

U.S. whooping cough update

On December 7, 2010, in ALL POSTS, EPIDEMICS/OUTBREAKS, Pertussis, by Leart Shaka 
 
The whooping cough has not affected only California, although it is at its worst there, with over 7,000 cases and 10 infant deaths so far. The disease has also affected other states. Here are the latest numbers as reported by the CDC (which may be behind in gathering the information, given that it is only reporting 2,536 cases in California whereas the California Department of Public Health has reported 7,297, so if anything the CDC numbers may be understated):
  • California – 7,297 cases, 10 deaths all infants under 3 months (CDPH data not CDC #)
  • Texas – 2,322 cases
  • Ohio – 1,546 cases
  • Michigan – 1,269 cases
  • Pennsylvania – 755 cases
  • Illinois – 728
  • Minnesota  – 698 cases
  • Iowa – 510
  • NY (Upstate) – 507
Other states have reported less than 500 cases during the year, for a total CDC reported number of 17, 854. When taking into account the rougly 4,800 difference between the California numbers as reported by the CDC and by the CDPH, we’re looking at well over 22,500 total cases of whooping cough in the United Staes in 2010.

Vaccine Times: The story of mercury in vaccines

The story of mercury in vaccines

On December 9, 2010, in ALL POSTS, ANTI-VACCINE WATCH, Ingredients, by Leart Shaka

Why thimerosal was removed from vaccines in the early 2000s

I recently wrote an entry which sparked a mini-war in the comments between myself and, what appears to be an anti-vaccine proponent. Many arguments were discussed, a few barbs were exchanged, and inevitably the topic of thimerosal came up. The commenter claimed that thimerosal was removed by the authorities “based on scientific analysis”. My reply was the standard: thimerosal was removed as a precautionary measure, in response to public outcry, stirred on by the anti-vaccine movement and their fear-mongering that mercury in vaccines was causing autism. The commenter replied to this:
No, you need to buff up on your history. Thimerosal was investigated because the government and EPA identified the danger of mercury exposure to the population at large and ordered an analysis into every exposure. The FDA then realized that exposures were occurring through Thimerosal and since mercury is a potent neurotoxin (that’s why the analysis was ordered in the first place) and that exposures were causing problems in the population, that it was prudent to eliminate that route of exposure. You seem to be falling for some manufactured history here.
Could it be that my understanding of the history of thimerosal is wrong? It is certainly possible, after all we all know how unreliable memory can be and how we humans can remember things wrong. So I decided to look it up, as a refresher, and to ensure that my comment was in fact correct. The CDC thankfully has a general timeline of the thimerosal saga. So let us go through it and see if the authorities did in fact remove thimerosal because  they realized that mercury exposure “was occurring through Thimerosal”, or they removed it as  a precaution.

Thimerosal Saga Timeline

07/07-1999 - The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service issue a joint statement that says “there is no data or evidence of any harm caused by the level of exposure that some children may have encountered in following the existing immunization schedule. Infants and children who have received thimerosal-containing vaccines do not need to be tested for mercury exposure.“  Furthermore it states (emphasis added):
The recognition that some children could be exposed to a cumulative level of mercury over the first 6 months of life that exceeds one of the federal guidelines on methyl mercury now requires a weighing of two different types of risks when vaccinating infants. On the one hand, there is the known serious risk of diseases and deaths caused by failure to immunize our infants against vaccine-preventable infectious diseases; on the other, there is the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of neurodevelopmental effects posed by exposure to thimerosal. The large risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of cumulative exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life.
Nevertheless, because any potential risk is of concern, the Public Health Service (PHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agree that thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible. Similar conclusions were reached this year in a meeting attended by European regulatory agencies, European vaccine manufacturers, and FDA, which examined the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines produced or sold in European countries.
So, what the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics were saying on 07/07/1999 is that there is no known risk from exposure to thimerosal, but regardless they were moving to have it removed regardless of this lack of evidence, solely based on “potential risk”. This seems to support my claim that thimerosal was removed out of precaution, not evidence of harm.

11/05/1999CDC states that vaccine manufacturers, FDA, and other agencies are working together to reduce the amount of thimerosal in vaccines, or to replace them with thimerosal-free vaccines, as soon as possible. It stated the following (emphasis added):
The risk, if any, to infants from exposure to thimerosal is believed to be slight. The demonstrated risks for not vaccinating children far outweigh the theoretical risk for exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines during the first 6 months of life.
Given the availability of vaccines that do not contain thimerosal as a preservative, the progress in developing such additional vaccines, and the absence of any recognized harm from exposure to thimerosal in vaccines, hepatitis B, DTaP, and Hib vaccines that contain thimerosal as a preservative can continue to be used in the routine infant schedule beginning at age 2 months along with monovalent or combination vaccines that do not contain thimerosal as a preservative.
1999 – From the CDC website (emphasis added):
The FDA reviews the use of thimerosal in childhood vaccines and finds no evidence of harm, but as a precautionary measure, recommends removing thimerosal from vaccines routinely given to infants.
05/05/2001 – A risk assessment of thimerosal use in childhood vaccines, published in the journal Pediatrics, finds no evidence of harm from the use of thimerosal as a preservative, other than redness and swelling at the injection site. More specifically the authors concluded as such (emphasis added):
Conclusion. Our review revealed no evidence of harm caused by doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for local hypersensitivity reactions. However, some infants may be exposed to cumulative levels of mercury during the first 6 months of life that exceed EPA recommendations. Exposure of infants to mercury in vaccines can be reduced or eliminated by using products formulated without thimerosal as a preservative.
10/01/2001 - IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee issues a report concluding there is not enough evidence to disprove claims that thimerosal in childhood vaccines causes autism, attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder, or speech or language delay. This is yet another better safe than sorry kind of report; there is no evidence that it is harmful, but we can’t prove it isn’t either.

2001 – Except for influenza (flu), thimerosal is removed from or reduced in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and under manufactured for the U.S. market.

08/2003 – A study looks for a link between autism incidence and the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines. The study does not find a link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism in Denmark and Sweden, where autism rates continued to increase although thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1992. Study authors conclude as such (emphasis added):
CONCLUSIONS: The body of existing data, including the ecologic data presented herein, is not consistent with the hypothesis that increased exposure to Thimerosal-containing vaccines is responsible for the apparent increase in the rates of autism in young children being observed worldwide.
11/2003 - Another study, published in Pediatrics, finds no consistent significant associations between exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines and a variety of kidney, nervous system, and developmental problems. The authors concluded as follow (emphasis added, TCV means Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines):
Conclusions. No consistent significant associations were found between TCVs and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Conflicting results were found at different HMOs for certain outcomes. For resolving the conflicting findings, studies with uniform neurodevelopmental assessments of children with a range of cumulative thimerosal exposures are needed.
05/17/2004 - After reviewing scientific studies that examined thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, the Institute of Medicine, IOM, concludes in a report that the studies “consistently provided evidence of no association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”

07/07/2007 – CDC issues a statement on autism and thimerosal that states in part “Some people believe increased exposure to thimerosal (from the addition of important vaccines recommended for children) explains the higher prevalence [of autism] in recent years. However, evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association.

09/27/2007 – A CDC study does not support an association between early exposure to thimerosal in vaccines and nervous system disorders in children between the ages of 7 and 10 years.
The weight of the evidence in this study does not support a causal association between early mercury exposure from thimerosal-containing vaccines and/or immunoglobulins and neuropsychological functioning at ages 7 to 10 years.
09/13/2010Another CDC study, published in Pediatrics, shows no connection between prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal and autism rates.  The authors concluded as such (emphasis added):
CONCLUSIONS In our study of MCO members, prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of ASDs.
Conclusion
First, let us bear in mind that this entry’s goal is not to summarize all the evidence, or lack there off, about thimerosal and its safety, but the goal was to verify my comment in the exchange with the commenter that the authorities decided to remove thimerosal not because of the scientific evidence showing harm, as the commenter claimed, but as a precautionary method.

All the documents linked to above point in the same direction; each one reaches the conclusion that there was no evidence of risk from thimerosal in vaccines. All risks are hypothetical, and since these studies could never prove definitively that thimerosal in vaccines doesn’t cause any extremely rare serious, they’re all couched in the “maybe” language. They all read as follows: No evidence of harm was found, but we can’t prove it so let’s take it out just to be safe. This is being interpreted by the anti-vaccine crowd as the “authorities admitting that the scientific evidence shows that thimerosal is harmful”.

I am the one who is being told to re-learn the history, but based on this evidence I’ve presented here today, it appears it is some on the anti-vaccine crowd that either do not know, or willfully misinterpret, the history.

Vaccine Times: Presidential Proclamation

Presidential Proclamation-National Influenza Vaccination Week

On December 10, 2010, in ALL POSTS, NEWS, by Leart Shaka 
 
Here is the full text of the Presidential Proclamation declaring this week National Influenza Vaccination Week. The original can be found at the White House website. Yet another good reason to vote for Obama in 2012.
Last year, as the world prepared for a pandemic of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, we were reminded of the severity and unpredictability of this serious disease.  Thousands of Americans suffered serious complications from the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in hospitalization or even death.  Tragically, influenza and flu related complications take American lives each year.  During National Influenza Vaccination Week, we remind all Americans that the flu vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the spread of flu viruses.
Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people 6 months of age and older.  Under the new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, individuals enrolled in new group or individual private health plans have no co-payment or deductible for influenza vaccinations.  While the flu can make even healthy children and adults very sick, certain individuals are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu.  Pregnant women, young children, older adults, as well as people living with HIV, chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, neurologic conditions, and certain other chronic health conditions are especially encouraged to get a flu vaccine.  Our Nation’s health care workers and those caring for infants under 6 months of age should also be vaccinated to protect themselves and those within their care.  I encourage all Americans to visit www.Flu.gov for information and resources on vaccinations and how to prevent and treat the flu.
Everyone can take steps to promote America’s health this flu season.  Though there is no way to accurately predict the course or severity of influenza, we know from experience that it will pose serious health risks for thousands of Americans this season.  We can all take common-sense precautions to prevent infection with influenza, including washing hands frequently, covering coughs or sneezes with sleeves and not hands, and staying home when ill.
However, vaccination is the best protection against contracting and spreading the flu.  The vaccine is available through doctors’ offices, clinics, State and local health departments, pharmacies, college and university health centers, as well as through many employers and some primary and secondary schools.  Seasonal flu activity is usually most intense between January and March, and vaccinating now can help curb the spread of this disease.  Together, we can prepare as individuals and as a Nation for this year’s flu season and help ensure that our fellow Americans remain healthy and safe.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 5 through December 11, 2010, as National Influenza Vaccination Week.  I encourage Americans to get vaccinated this week if they have not yet done so, and to urge their families, friends, and co workers to do the same.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
BARACK OBAMA

Just the Vax: Evidence trumps blanket statements (or whack-a-bob)

Evidence trumps blanket statements (or whack-a-bob)

I have a number of other blogs planned, but this little gem needed treating first. On The Vaccine Book discussion forum, a poster asked a couple of days ago:
Dr. Bob - the other day you answered a question for me regarding titers and MMR. You mentioned that immunity could last up to 10-15 years. Someone had a follow up question as follows:
does that mean that we would have to re-vaccinate when child is 14 or older? (Having been originally vaccinated at age 4). Will the one MMR not last a lifetime? Or would we just check titers again after the ten to fifteen year mark?
These are very relevant questions, given the dangerous MMR recommendations that Dr. Bob spreads on his board and blog. Here is his answer:
I'd check titers. It's fairly unpredictable and individual as far as how long titers will stay positive. You could check every 5 years starting around age fifteen. OR, knowing that the diseases are so rare, you could just not bother after checking at fifteen. MOST adults have lost their imunity, and no one checks (unless a person's occupation requires it, or during pregnancy for rubella).
Wow - there is so much wrong with that, lets take in in bits:

I'd check titers.: Yes, you would, as a doctor in private practice, that sounds like a very attractive way forward. Not sure how appealing this is to parents and children, though.

It's fairly unpredictable and individual as far as how long titers will stay positive.: It is funny he should say that, when the current Dr. Bob recommendation is to vaccinate children once with MMR when they are four since that is sufficient then ("for State requirements", in the small print).

You could check every 5 years starting around age fifteen.: A blood draw and expensive titers (not sure how expensive, but his vaccine visits cost $80 to $200) every five years, mmh, ok.

OR, knowing that the diseases are so rare, you could just not bother after checking at fifteen.: Dr. Bob logic at work. I have called him a public health threat before - here is a quick recap of one of the reasons why:
Why are M, M, and R rare? Because of the 2xMMR vaccine policy in developed countries.
What will happen if everyone followed Dr. Bob's recommendation? M, M, and R would resurge - his 1xMMR vaccinated patients would provide the ideal breeding ground. Dr. Bob's home visits for measles patients do not come cheap.

MOST adults have lost their imunity: That one left me almost speechless. Luckily, while Bob's anonymous sycophants were busy name calling, cbe did a minute of research:
the evidence? by cbe - posted on 11/30/2010
All the evidence I see for rubella and measles says adults have MAINTAINED their immunity. Where is the evidence on the other side?

Is it "rude" to ask for that evidence?

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/408098 Here we see measles immunity of 81-89% of adults and higher...and these are in birth cohorts that DID NOT receive the 2 dose schedule. So we know that many of these individuals are not immune because the 2 dose schedule came into effect later.

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=19060889

this study looks at mumps 21 years after 2 dose vaccination. 70%+ immune. This is consistent with what SM is saying about mumps being the least effective part of the vaccine. BUT even here Dr Bob's assertion that "most" are not immune is not playing out in the numbers. I assume "most" would mean at least 50% + 1.

93%+ canadian mothers were found to be immune to rubella:

http://tinyurl.com/27gf9s6

Again 90%+ immune to rubella:
http://tinyurl.com/2eoxurz

I can show tons more for measles, too.'

But where is the evidence that most adults have lost immunity?
That was easy, right? Turns out that Dr. Bob had never invested that minute:
Hey CBE - thanks for the info by Dr. Bob - posted on 11/30/2010
I haven't looked at this research. I was answering simply on the general belief among the medical community that most vaccines don't last into adulthood. Since I don't do adult medicine, I've never had to counsel parents through this type of information and I've never actually looked it up. It looks like you are right about the MMR titers though - it seems that they do last into adulthood for more people. Thanks for pointing that out. I appreciate you doing so in a straightforward, respectful manner - very adult of you.

I haven't looked at this research.: now that was blindingly obvious.

I was answering simply on the general belief among the medical community that most vaccines don't last into adulthood.: I was answering simply on the general belief I didn't bother to look up the evidence before I posted utter nonsense in the forum (there, I fixed that for you).

Since I don't do adult medicine, I've never had to counsel parents through this type of information and I've never actually looked it up.: So Dr. Bob doesn't consider the consequences of his "alternative vaccination schedule" for his patients when they become adults? Wow.

This anonymous poster expresses their frustration:
Cath, This is bizarre to me - if the diseases are by - posted on 11/30/2010
"so rare" as Dr. Bob says, and most adults have lost immunity, then why do we bother vaccinating at all? It seems that older kids and teens would be at much MORE risk from mumps and measles, and we would want to make sure that they remained immune to these diseases all through adulthood. If adults have lost immunity, aren't babies at risk from adults from than from children? Where is the ratinale in this thinking?
as does this:
I don't think SM posted a rude comment at all by - posted on 11/30/2010
The thinking is illogical to expect parents to keep checking titers every five years, or not check at all since most of us are not immune anyway! I think for myself, it makes no sense at all to keep checking titers, when I know with almost certaintly that immunity will "wear off" after 5-10 years or so according to Dr. Bob. If we know that immunity from MMR wears off after several years, how can we safely get by with just one dose? I want my children to be protected when they are older and more prone to serious risks from measles and mumps. Same feeling with chickenpox. I think we will do one MMR at age four, and check titers once soon after to make sure it worked, then the second dose at age 12, before puberty. This was the old recommendation from AAP, since these diseases are MORE dangerous as kids pass adolescence, and they wanted to insure immunity into the later years.
and this:
Then if someone is going to make money by - posted on 12/1/2010
by offering that advice as an "expert" on the topic in print form, shouldn't they be willing and able to look up accurate information about said topic? Particularly if offering blanket statements? That is more rude than any attacks I've seen.

This site is a money-making venture.

No further comment needed.