Fifteen Children in South Sudan Die During Vaccine Campaign

The Associated Press is reporting that 15 children have died as a result of a vaccination campaign in South Sudan. According to the report:

“Fifteen young children have died in a botched measles vaccination campaign that saw people as young as 12 years old administering the vaccines, South Sudan’s government announced Friday.

The United Nations said the children died of “severe sepsis/toxicity” from the contaminated vaccine, and the health ministry blamed the deaths on human error. One syringe was used for all the children during the four-day campaign, and the vaccine was stored without refrigeration the entire time.”

So let’s reemphasize the meaningful facts before the anti-vaccine liars get a hold of these news and start to use them to attack the vaccination campaigns here in the United States.

First, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war for quite a while now. They used to be part of Sudan, but broke off and became independent in 2011. The continuing state of war, along with periodic famines, have presented quite a challenge to deliver food, medicine, clean water, and other supplies. To top it off, measles has been on the increase, further putting a burden on the lives of the people there. (And, by extension, the lives of Sudanese refugees the world over as refugees go back to see family and take measles back to their host countries.)

Second, 12 year-old children should not be administering vaccines. Yes, there is a shortage of trained professionals to administer vaccines because of the situation on the ground. But it goes without saying that this was a huge mistake. There are many things that can go wrong — and apparently did — during the administration of a vaccine, and I’m sure 12 year-old children are not trained to handle it.

Third, even with the preservative thimerosal in it (which the MMR vaccine does not have, as it is a live-virus vaccine), vaccines can still become contaminated over the course of several days being open and not in proper storage conditions. Furthermore, needles can collect pathogens from all over the place, including people. They probably passed on those pathogens from person to person, causing all of this.

“The civil war has killed tens of thousands and sent more than 1.8 million people fleeing the country, creating the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

In 2016, South Sudan had at least 2,294 measles cases and 28 people died, according to U.N. data. So far this year, at least one person has died and 665 people have been infected.”

So, when the anti-vaccine jerks tell you that it was the vaccine that killed these children, make sure to fire back with facts.

It’s a small world after all!

When Andrew Jeremy Wakefield told us that it was his gut feeling that the MMR vaccine caused autism, I doubt that he had any idea of what he was about to unleash on the world. I really don’t think that he wanted to trigger outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in places where vaccines had suppressed those diseases out of epidemic range and into sporadic range. I bet he was in it for the money. Get people to take less of the MMR and more of the vaccine that he was trying to patent. Like any industrialist, he wanted to crush the competition and give the people a reasonable alternative.

That’s my theory, anyway. The truth could be more sinister and Andrew Jeremy Wakefield really was trying to cause outbreaks of measles like the one that engulfed Wales in 2012-13. That outbreak resulted in a little over 1,200 reported cases. The true number is probably higher, since not everyone sick was tested and a lab confirmation is necessary to call a case a “confirmed case.” In a country of just over 3 million people, the incidence of measles during the time period of the outbreak was about 40 cases per 100,000 residents. If you ignore the differences between Wales and the United States, this would translate to an outbreak of 128,000 confirmed cases in eight months in the United States. Like in the US, measles was declared eliminated in the United Kingdom at the beginning of this century when the incidence rate was less than one case per 100,000 residents per year.

Because so many people decided not to vaccinate with MMR anymore in Wales after Wakefield’s fraudulent paper on MMR and autism, herd immunity against measles (a very, very infectious disease transmitted through the air) ended, bringing about the Wales outbreak. That outbreak caused a lot of people to become sick and at least one death. (The death rate from measles is about 1 in 1,000, so it stands to reason that 1,200 confirmed cases would lead to one confirmed death.) In the nightmare “all things being equal” scenario in the United States, we could expect about 128 people to die from measles.

Death is not the only measure by which reasonable people should measure the impact of a disease on the population. There are other costs as well. There is the cost of parents missing work because they have to tend to sick children. There is the cost of medical care for those sick children. There is also the cost of tracing the contacts of the cases, and the people who are quarantined because they may be infectious will miss work and school. In the years before vaccines, this all used to cost a ton of resources to our societies. In the time since vaccines, we have been able to devote those resources to other things. It’s why we are living longer. It’s why you can sit comfortably in almost any place in the world and read this blog.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the measles outbreak that seems to have as its epicentre “the happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland. Look at this news report from the San Diego Union-Tribune online:

“San Diego County now has 10 active measles cases, all of them linked to Disneyland visits in December, public-health officials confirmed Thursday.

Six siblings, 22 months to 18 years in age, had arrived Wednesday at the Sharp Rees-Stealy urgent care center in La Mesa with rashes and other signs of measles. Shortly afterward, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency learned of a case involving an adult older than 50.”

The only person in that bunch who was fully vaccinated against measles was the adult over 50. That’s it. The six siblings are not up to date on their vaccinations and, according to the news report, they are not enrolled in any public schools in San Diego County, California. Now there’s a list of places where they went while they were infectious. (A person is infectious before any symptoms appear.) Public health officials are asking anyone who is not vaccinated and was at those places to seek medical attention in order to contain the outbreak. The outbreak now stands at over two dozen people with more cases coming, according to my sources in public health at a national level.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. This has the potential to turn into the Wales outbreak but at a scale for a country of almost 320 million people. Last year we saw the most cases of measles in a year since the disease was eliminated from the United States. There were over 600 cases and over 20 outbreak. As Ren pointed out, a drop of just one or two percentage points in the proportion of people immunized raises the number of people in an outbreak significantly:

“A paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology looks at these outbreaks and analyzes what it would take for measles to come back and be endemic in the United States again, or, at the very least, cause sustained epidemics. The paper is titled “Identifying Postelimination Trends for the Introduction and Transmissibility of Measles in the United States” by Blumberg et al. The authors looked at the sizes of transmission chains in outbreaks of measles and developed a mathematical model for determining the infectivity of measles and what several milestones would be for sustained transmission. In the paper, the authors concluded that the average size of a transmission chain is about 2 cases and that about half of cases are imported to the United States. In other words, a case goes out and brings measles and then infects one more person here, on average. Some chains are considerably larger. Other chains are not chains at all but single cases who return to highly immune communities. This assumes that all cases are properly reported to public health, which is not always the case from my experience.

The math used by the authors took into consideration vaccine coverage in the United States as reported by CDC. If they dropped vaccine coverage by 1%, the average infection chain becomes 2.8 people. Bring that coverage down to 93.9% from 95.9% (a decrease of two percentage points), and the chain jumps to a whopping 4.3 people on average. Let that sink in a little. A simple drop in two percentage points in our current MMR coverage pretty much doubles the number of people infected with measles from people who bring it from overseas, according to the mathematical model presented by the authors.”

How low is the immunization rate in the counties in California where the outbreak started? It’s scarily low:

“The trend is especially pronounced in Orange County, where the proportion of kindergartners with their full shots fell from 92.9 percent in 2003 to 89.3 in 2012, and particularly in the county’s wealthy beachfront communities.”

This is way below the threshold analyzed by the paper that Ren reviewed. It’s about 6 percentage points lower, meaning that the outbreak chain on average will be about 60 cases, if you follow the math from the model in that paper. In a civilised society where the vaccine is widely available, those kinds of numbers are nothing short of insane.

So who is to blame for all this? Is it just Andrew Jeremy Wakefield bringing his MMR fearmongering to the United States after being so soundly rejected in Britain, stricken off the medical record and regarded as nothing better than a self-righteous quack? Is it the douchebag pediatricians who for some reason kowtow to “crunchy” moms and dads who are afraid of vaccines? Is is the other douchebag pediatricians who pull “alternative vaccine schedules” out of their asses and tell non-vaccinating parents that it’s okay to “hide in the herd”? Is it the fire science graduates who bloviate about the so-called dangers of vaccines and try to make themselves sound important when they’re nothing more than warm piss flowing down the drain of the truck stop restroom that is anti-vaccine activism?

Yes, it is their fault, but there is more blame to be spread.

It’s the fault of people who think that it is a good idea for anti-vaccine loons like Sherry Tenpenny to travel to Australia and give talks about vaccines, spreading a dangerous message. It’s also the fault of well-intentioned public health professionals who want to defend her free speech right to do so. (Wink, wink, Ren.) People who know that vaccines work but don’t want to engage with the anti-vaccine nutjobs are also to blame for not speaking up and correcting the lies put out there by those hacks. Elected politicians who get a lot of money donated to them by anti-vaccine special interests are also to blame for something that reeks of corruption.

In short, everyone is responsible for this shameful chapter in public health history. We had measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases beat, but we’ve allowed them to come back because we seem to think that parents are the best judges of what is good and what is bad for their children. They’re not. They may be the best advocates for their children, people we can trust will act with in the best interests of the children 99.9997% of the time. However, if they are misinformed fools who think that vaccines are toxic or vaccines make people toxic, or cause autism and whatnot, then they will act wrongly when it comes to what is best for their children and for society in general.

These idiots are walking around with their college degrees in non-science fields thinking that they somehow are knowledgeable in science-related matters because they can google terms and read websites and blogs that confirm their biases without a shred of evidence. They think that they can skip vaccines because, hey, people survived vaccine-preventable diseases all the time. Most of the people who went to war returned from that war. It doesn’t mean that war is not deadly, painful, scarring, and costly beyond human comprehension.

So take a good look at yourself in the mirror right after you read this and ask yourself if you did everything possible to counter the lies and misinformation put out by anti-vaccine luminaries like the morons at Age of Autism or RKF Jr. and his anti-thimerosal brigade. Did you donate to organizations like Every Child By Two, Voices for Vaccines, or Will you counter your friends and neighbors on whatever medium if they say that vaccines don’t work?

The ball is in your court. It really is, no matter how much or how little you think you influence the world. Eradicable diseases like measles are not being eradicated because the most infectious thing, fear, is being allowed to spread without countering it with the most effective thing against it, knowledge.

Yes, you should be concerned that measles is back

When we last met, I told you how the anti-vaccine crowd were not the only ones to blame for the current resurgence in vaccine-preventable diseases. One of you mentioned how pediatricians who cater to anti-science views are to be blamed as well. I almost forgot about the likes of Dr. Jay Gordon and Dr. Bob Sears, and others. Thanks for reminding me. The one thing I did not do was absolve the anti-vaccine activists from any blame. Certainly, when you are outspoken about things that have been proven to be wrong to you, when you write about them here and there and post videos on YouTube and other places to continue to try and convince people of lies, then there is plenty of blame to come your way.

Hat tip to “Lilady” for a pointing me to this ridiculous blog post over at Age of Autism, the daily web newspaper of the non-existent autism epidemic. Remember, for them to continue to exist there must be an autism epidemic, and for them to continue to be supported by anti-vaccine luminaries like Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, this “epidemic” must be caused by the MMR vaccine. They certainly walk a fine line by also blaming thimerosal, which was never in the MMR vaccine. Look at it this way: If any of the thousands of studies done to find a causal link between thimerosal and autism were proven to be true, then the MMR-autism causal theory would get blown out of the water. It’s a fine line indeed.

Anyway, the blog post in question is titled with the ridiculous question of “Should we be concerned”? (No question mark on their title, though.) It is written by the first half of this pair of American Loons. The reasonable person’s answer to that question is “Yes! Yes, we should be concerned. I mean, my God, we almost eradicated the goddamned virus, why the hell is it back?” But the authors at AoA and a majority of their readers don’t seem like reasonable people for me. So, of course, articles like that will find a natural home in that blog.

The post starts and continues will all manner of errors, misunderstandings and misinformation about measles:

“Prior to 1960, most children in the United States and Canada caught measles. Complications from the disease were unlikely. Previously healthy children usually recovered without incident.”

Notice how he makes it out to be that measles is a perfectly normal thing that every child got through. It’s not normal. It’s a viral infection. It causes complications and even death. You forgot to mention that, you lunatic! The post is also filled with convoluted reasoning like this:

“Authorities also claim that unvaccinated people are contracting the disease and spreading it to others. However, a study published this year in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that people who are fully vaccinated against measles can spread the disease to other people who are fully vaccinated against measles. Thus, vaccinated people are vectors for the disease.”

Did you catch it? He is trying to tell us that the unvaccinated are not to blame because there were a handful of cases where vaccinated people caught it and spread it. Like the two things are mutually exclusive. Of course vaccinated will still catch measles. The vaccine is not 100% effective. There will always be those for whom the vaccine doesn’t trigger immunity. But, because people are willingly not getting vaccinated, the number of non-immune is bigger than it has to be.

Then there is this enormous misunderstanding of how relative risk works:

“It is also important to note that in nearly every outbreak of measles, large percentages of the cases occur in people who were fully vaccinated against the disease. For example, in 1988, 69% of all school-aged children in the U.S. who contracted measles were adequately vaccinated. In 1995, 56% of all measles cases in the U.S. occurred in people who were previously vaccinated.”

In every single outbreak of a disease for which the large majority of people are immunized, there will be a majority of people who are immunized and are cases. However, when you break it down to relative risks, those who are vaccinated are less likely to be part of the outbreak. In 1995, there were 301 confirmed cases of measles in the United States. That’s an important number because, at the time, it was the lowest number of cases in the country since we started keeping more accurate records of measles in 1912.

But facts and figures and statistics don’t seem to bother Mr. Miller, the “health pioneer” and “independent researcher.” Also, vaccines don’t save anyone:

“Today, most developing nations require their infants to receive several inoculations, including a measles vaccine at 9 months of age. They have very high vaccine coverage rates (a percentage of the target population that has been vaccinated), yet their infant mortality rates are dreadfully unacceptable. For example, in 2011 Gambia, a poor country in Africa, required its infants to receive multiple vaccines, vaccinated 90% to 96% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines), yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays. Ghana also required its infants to receive several vaccines, vaccinated 91% to 98% of its infants (91% received measles vaccines) yet also had a dismal infant mortality rate: 52 of every 1000 infants died before their first birthdays.”

Ah, yes, silly us. We thought that children who have to deal with malnourishment, malaria, HIV/AIDS and all sorts of other existential threats could do without measles, but Mr. Miller smashes all causes of death together to tell us, basically, that we should stop vaccinating because children are still dying. The level of flawed reasoning is astounding. “Yet 58 of every 1000 infants still died before their first birthdays,” he writes. You know what they DID NOT die from? Measles. Mr. Miller doesn’t tell us how much higher the death toll would be if these children also had to face vaccine-preventable diseases.

Another frequent reader of this blog, “Todd W.”, decided to step into the murky waters of the comments section, and I applaud him for that. But you can read for yourself that it is hopeless. Immediately, his credentials were questioned, and they wondered if he was being paid to comment. He was told that he reads “like a CDC commercial”. (Have you seen any commercials brought to you by CDC?) But, again, that’s par for the course for the quacks and hacks that know very well how to manipulate words and numbers to please their crowd.

Don’t be fooled. Age of Autism is all about pleasing the kind of people who want to believe in monsters under the bed. They are now even catering to the “chemtrail” crowd:


Who is to blame for all the measles?

There’s a massive outbreak of measles underway in China. It’s big, really big:

“In the first five months of 2014, China has reported nearly 36,000 cases of measles, well over the 27,646 cases reported for all of 2013 and almost six times the number reported in 2012.”

In a country with that many people (over 1.3 billion at last count), 36 thousand cases may not seem like a lot. It’s 0.003%, but remember that we don’t do math that way in epidemiology. We divide 36,000 by the number at risk, and the number at risk is indicated by the number who are not vaccinated or have lost their immunity due to disease (e.g. cancer) or treatment for a disease (e.g. cancer, again). That number, the number at risk, is pretty much uncertain because the public health infrastructure in China is, well, lacking.

But this post is not about China. It’s about the good ol’ US of A. We have a somewhat robust public health system that, in my humble opinion and when it comes to immunization, is probably up there with the best in the world. There is no child in this country that does not have access to immunizations. If you have a child in the most remote corners of this country, you can get them vaccinated at little to no cost, especially against the killers like whooping cough and measles. So why do we have measles making a comeback here in the US? Is it just the anti-vaccine crew that have done this to us? (Don’t be fooled, it is us, you and me, that will be affected if vaccine-preventable diseases make a comeback.)

Yes and no. I’ve been reading some blog posts by some very well-intentioned people, and they place all of the blame on vaccine refusers for the rise in measles that we are seeing. I read a lot of that hand-wringing in those posts. After all, anti-vaxxers are the natural enemy of vaccine supporters, right? It’s the Jenny McCarthys and Andrew Jeremy Wakefields and their followers who we must fight and fight some more, so why not blame them (and them alone) for the rise in measles, mumps, and whooping cough?

We can’t just blame them and them alone because this is a very complex issue. The federal and state governments also have some fault because they’ve made enforcing vaccination requirements a joke. There are states that allow parents to simply sign a form to let their unvaccinated disease incubators go to school. Other states allow religious exemptions though there are no actual religions that prohibit vaccination. (Maybe some of the newer, whackier religions?) And don’t get me started on the under-funding of public health overall. If I had to decide whether to enforce vaccine requirements or inspect foods, which would I do?

The educational system is also to blame because it has failed to give today’s parents the tools they need to discern between good and bad science. Very basic teachings in biology, chemistry, and math would allow people to tell that what they’re being told by anti-vaccine outfits are out-of-context facts at best and outright lies at worst. Biology would help them understand why “leaky gut,” viral shedding, and all the other things attributed to vaccines are crap science. Chemistry would help them understand why thiomersal is not “mercury” like anti-vaccine advocates would like you to think that it is. Math would help them understand things like odds ratios and relative risks.

Then there’s the media. Their continuing attempts at false balance by giving equal time to quacks when discussing vaccines confuses the unknowing, uneducated public. A hysterical anti-vaccine advocate who doesn’t let a medical doctor speak and just drones on and on about all the evil things that vaccines are believed to do is actually credible to some people. Some people want to believe, and when they see that credible news outlets invite anti-vaccine nuts, well, then their belief is confirmed.

I would love to just point the finger at outfits like NVIC and AoA and say that they’re to blame for all the measles. Heck, if it was only Andrew Jeremy Wakefield that did this to us, the solution would be simple. But the problem is huge and complex, and we pro-vaccine bloggers are not doing our audience any favors by just saying that it’s the anti-vaxxers and leaving it at that. After all, what kind of action can you take against someone with such closely-held beliefs? You can’t really change a person at that deep a level. But, if we realize that there are other causes that we can do something about, then we can, you know, do something.

Oh, and we’re a plane trip away from China and from a fresh pool of measles to land on us… That’s why I mentioned China. I almost forgot.


When a doctor stops behaving like one

You’ve probably heard of the Hippocratic Oath, an oath taken in one form or another by the majority of graduating medical students in the United States. One of the major tenets of the oath is the principle of beneficence: do no harm, prevent any harm, relieve any harm. A physician, and basically anyone who has decided to devote their life to medicine, is morally, ethically, and even legally bound by this principle. They must not cause any harm through their medicine, or take reasonable steps to not cause it. They must prevent their patients from being harmed, or take the reasonable steps to prevent said harm. And they must relieve any harm being caused to their patients, or do the reasonable thing to bring about this relief. I threw in the reasonable clauses there because physicians and other healthcare providers can only do so much. Patients are in many ways responsible for their actions, but it is up to the provider to give proper guidance and counseling based on all the available evidence.

All the available evidence on the MMR vaccine (the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella) is that it works very, very well and is very, very safe. Any person getting both doses of the vaccine is over 99% likely to be immune against measles. As an epidemiologist, when I’ve investigated outbreaks of measles in the literature, I’ve found that very rarely are there vaccinated people in the group of those who are sick. In my personal experience, I am yet to find a vaccinated person with measles. (Mumps is another thing. The vaccine seems to wane when it comes to mumps.) So the vaccine is 99% effective. But is it safe?

Yes, yes it is. Despite any claims to the contrary, there are no links between the MMR vaccine and any of the ailments exaggerated by the anti-vaccine crowd. It doesn’t cause autism. Very, very few people get more than a local reaction to it. Rarely does it cause encephalitis, but that clears up on its own. In short, the vaccine has prevented measles cases in orders of magnitude greater than any injury it has caused. I will bet my life’s savings on the vaccine any day of the week over a bout of measles. With modern medical technology, measles is less of a killer than it was before the vaccine, but you still don’t want to get it. It can be crippling, incapacitating.

To recap so far: Vaccine good. No vaccine bad. Thus, based on the principle of beneficence, healthcare providers must recommend and give the MMR vaccine to their patients to prevent a harm called measles, especially when there is an outbreak of the bug going on in their vicinity.

One physician in the United States who graduated from Georgetown University is Robert “Bob” W. Sears, MD, FAAP. He went through medical school and must have learned about immunology, virology, and maybe even some epidemiology. He is board certified in pediatrics. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that he knows all about the Hippocratic Oath and about beneficence. It’s just that (to me) he acts like he doesn’t, or like he doesn’t understand the things he should have learned in college and medical school, and beyond. Why? Because of his stance on vaccination.

“Dr. Bob” wrote a book called “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision For Your Child“. The title is innocent enough to make you think that maybe he is for vaccines but just wants them spaced out. Maybe he knows something we don’t? After all, he is a board certified pediatrician. The trouble with his book is that he gets a lot of things wrong. Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician himself, vaccine researcher and developer:

“Sears wants parents to use the information he has provided to make their own decisions about whether to vaccinate their children. “I have offered you all the information you need to make this decision,” he writes, “but I have held back from actually telling you what to do. I want you to formulate your own decision without letting my opinion sway you one way or the other.” Unfortunately, Sears, who wants parents to make informed decisions, has written a book that will largely misinform them.”

And take the word of the world’s authorities on vaccination science.

Still, you might be inclined to think that Dr. Bob is not anti-vaccine. After all, he’s not saying that you should stop vaccines altogether. He just wants you think that you can delay the administration of them because… Because something. I don’t know why. There’s no real reason to do so; No scientific reason, anyway.

Let’s stop here quick for an update on the return of measles to the United States. According to the California Department of Health, there have been 32 confirmed cases of measles this year, compared to only three last year. Ten of this year’s cases are in Los Angeles alone. If this isn’t an outbreak, I don’t know what is. And I know my outbreaks, I’m an epidemiologist and I’ve taught epidemiology. But Dr. Bob has a different take on this outbreak. To him, it’s not an outbreak at all:

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Here’s the text:

“Measles Epidemic . . . NOT!

Why is it that every time there are a few cases of measles, everyone panics? I just don’t get it. So, here’s the situation in the O.C., where I live and practice. Seven cases. Seven. That’s 7. Not 700, not a million Seven. So, why do people panic? Here’s one reason: the ^$#@*&%&*$# media. News reports go out stating that there are outbreaks of measles, and everyone needs to be concerned. Everyone is quick to blame those who don’t vaccinate, AND those who don’t vaccinate start to panic. We’ve gotten dozens of calls to our office with people wanting to know if they should come in for the vaccine.”

I do wonder if Dr. Robert “Bob” W. Sears is acting like a physician and recommending the vaccine to his patients in a time of a measles outbreak in his state, under the principle of beneficence? What kind of specialized knowledge does Dr. Bob have that the California Department of Health doesn’t to assure his patients that there is no outbreak of measles in the state, though there are ten times more cases right now than this same time frame last year? If anyone has answers to these questions, let me know. I’m not asking them rhetorically. This is a pediatrician, a board certified physician, blowing off information from public health authorities. It is in the public’s best interest to know if one of the physicians charged with taking care of the public’s children is not acting like a physician and more like an anti-vaccine activist.

But, then again, we don’t need to look far to see if Dr. Bob is anti-vaccine:


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Well, if he is not anti-vaccine, then I’m the Prime Minister of Burundi. I mean, he is the administrator of a goddamned anti-vaccine, private Facebook group. So has he been lying when he says he’s not anti-vaccine? Probably. I’d have more respect for the man if just came out of the anti-vaccine closet and proudly proclaimed to be anti-science, like other medically-trained healthcare providers have. Then we wouldn’t have to play this game of exposing Dr. Robert “Bob” W. Sears to the world for the anti-vaccine activist that we see in him.

What’s the harm, really?

One thing that anti-vaccine types keep asking over and over is the following:

“If your kid is vaccinated, and if vaccines work as well as you say they do… Why is my kid a threat to your kid?”

It’s an interesting mental game to play with them if you’re so inclined. It probably won’t get you anywhere with the hardcore anti-vaccine activists, the ones that blame everything and anything on vaccines. But the “softer” ones may still be reachable. Here’s how you play the game: Continue reading

There is zero evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness, except when there is

I told you before the story of a father whose daughter developed Type I diabetes and he decided to blame the hepatitis B vaccine she received at birth three years before her diagnosis. That’s one heck of an incubation time, by the way. I told you how he wrote a self-published book and now has gushing anti-vaccine fans on his Facebook page all the time, adoring his every word. I’ve also told you how not one of his followers calls him on his shenanigans. He’s even gone as far as to quote HIV/AIDS denialists on how mean and evil vaccines are. In short, there is no anti-vaccine theory that this guy is not willing to listen to. And there seems to be nothing he’s not willing to say, including this:

“if you show my (sic) one sound and independent conducted scientific study that vaccines prevent illness I will accept your words ‘vaccine preventable illness’. Those advocating vaccine safety and effectiveness are the first to pint (sic) out that correlation doesn’t equal causation, yet there is nothing but correlation to the claim that vaccines eradicated diseases. It is just as valid to claim that better sanitary conditions and nutrition eradicated diseases. When I was a child I had measles, chicken pox, etc. and so did everyone I know. Those were acceptable childhood illnesses and very few children suffered complications. Thanks to a massive propaganda campaign today even a cold is considered to be bad and therefore everyone accepts the notion that we need vaccines. Thanks to vaccines our children suffer now from autism, autoimmune diseases, etc. Great business model as those kids are hooked for a lifetime to receive drug treatments. Bad medicine though.”

Yeah, there’s is zero evidence of vaccine safety and effectiveness, according to him. Notice how he brings out the “sanitation and nutrition” card. Yes, populations have less disease when they wash their hands, drink clean water, have working sewage systems, and eat well. “Populations” is the operating word. If they go without vaccinating, even the most industrialized nations fall prey to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Look at Wales. It is on the island of Great Britain, part of Europe, highly industrialized and advanced. Why are they having an outbreak of measles with hundreds of cases? Did their water run out? Did they run out of soap to wash their hands? Fruits and veggies no longer on the menu? No, they stopped vaccinating enough and measles came back. Simple.

This is what gets to me, though: “Those were acceptable childhood illnesses and very few children suffered complications.” Yeah, to him, things like Congenital Rubella Syndrome were no big deal. Except when it was. If you read about CRS, you’ll see how horrible it is and how common it was before the MMR vaccine:

“Before vaccination was introduced in the early 1970s, it is estimated that 200 – 300 infants were born with congenital rubella syndrome in each non-epidemic year in the UK; many more were born in epidemic years. Rubella in pregnancy was responsible for 15 – 20 per cent of significant congenital hearing loss and two per cent of congenital heart disease…

Rubella immunisation was introduced in the UK in 1970 for women of childbearing age and school girls. Since then there have been than 800 babies born disabled as a result of their mothers catching rubella in the early stages of pregnancy. In the same period there have been over 6,500 rubella related terminations.

Since the triple MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988 in the UK there have been just 74 congenital rubella births and only 16 this century; the cases that are reported tend to be to women born abroad who were not immunised as children, and the women themselves have often acquired infection abroad.”

Yeah, deafness and blindness, no big deal. But he’ll say that it was good nutrition and hygiene since 1988 in the UK that have brought down these cases, making the vaccine only a happy coincidence. He really is that vile.