Everything is caused by vaccines and vaccines cause everything

I’ve done this mental exercise with you all before, but here it goes again, one more time:

Check out the following VAERS report for an HPV vaccine (ID 418957-1):

“Information has been received from a licensed practical nurse concerning a 19 year old female patient with penicillin allergy who on 09-NOV-2010 was vaccinated with the first dose of GARDASIL without incident. At 09:00 on 01-MAR-2011 the patient received a dose of GARDASIL (Lot# 666597/0768Z, Expiration: 17-OCT-2011) (dose, strength and therapy route were unspecified). A lot check has been initiated. Concomitant therapy included SEASONIQUE and ZYRTEC. In January 2011, the patient experienced mononuceleosis. At 13:26 on 01-MAR-2011, the patient was involved in an automobile accident and suffered some bumps and bruises. The patient was not hospitalized. At the time of report, the patient was recovering. Therapy was not discontinued. There was no lab diagnostics. The patient sought medical attention. Bumps, bruises and automobile accident were considered to be life threatening by the reporter. Additional information has been requested.”

Yes. This was reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System because the person who got the vaccine got into a goddamned automobile accident the same goddamn day. (Excuse my language, but, come on!) Then, although “the patient was not hospitalized”, she considered her bumps and bruises to be “life threatening”. Come on!

Then there’s this one (ID 308661-1):

“We received on 12 FEB 2008 from a healthcare professional the following information: A 7-year-old male patient, born on 21 JUN 2000 was vaccinated with FLUVIRIN (batch no. unknown) on 19 NOV 2007. The patient was killed in an automobile traffic accident on 01 FEB 2008. The subject had participated in a clinical trial sponsored by MedImmune. FLUVIRIN was used in that trial as a control, and Novartis Vaccine & Diagnostics (NVD) has donated the FLUVIRIN, but other than that has not been involved. Although the event did not occur during the duration of the trial, and the investigator did not see any causal relationship to the vaccination with FLUVIRIN, he reported the event to the IRB and NVD because the child had died.”

So, this one was reported because it was probably part of the study design that any and all deaths of participants was to be reported no matter what.

How about this (214473-1):

“A consumer reported that her 36 year old husband received a dose of FluMist on an unspecified date in 2003. On 12/13/03, he experienced dizziness and was subsequently involved in a car accident. The reporter indicated that the event was life-threatening. No additional information was available at the time of this report.”

And this (331195-1):

“Information has been received from a study concerning a patient (age and gender not reported) who was vaccinated with a dose of PROQUAD (date, dose, route not reported). It was reported that the patient died due to drowning (date not reported). This is one of several reports from the same source. Additional information has been requested.”

And, finally, this (168749-1):

“No data obtained. Parents are awaiting final autopsy report and the death certificate. These will not be produced until a final toxicology report is obtained. All of this is per the coroner. Autopsy states cause of death as undetermined. Death certificate states cause of death due to cerebral laceration w/open skull fracture due to an automobile accident.”

Organizations like NVIC and other anti-vaccine groups like that will tell you to dive deep into VAERS and see for yourself all of the horrible, horrible things that vaccines have done to people. In those reports are many reports of things that are not scientifically known to be linked to vaccines, like open-head fractures from car accidents. There is the story of a woman who smoked for 44 years and then died of a pulmonary embolism (a clot) a few days after getting the flu vaccine at work. (Was it the smoking?) There is the story of another woman who was morbidly obese and on birth control and got a blood clot weeks after getting the HPV vaccine. (Was it the fat and the hormones?) And on, and on, and on. The anti-vaccine organizations and their minions will not tell you about these cases that are obviously not related to vaccines.

They will, however, lump them in with other cases of non-serous adverse events and claim that it’s all proof of a reptilian conspiracy by CNN and maybe even Ted Turner, or some other bunch of myths like that.

Who will you believe?

Believing what you want to believe, not what reality dictates

Thank you, Reasonable Hank, for pointing out to me this incredibly creepy thread going on on Facebook. (No login is required to read it.) NVIC, as I’ve told you before here, here, and here, is an anti-vaccine organization that seems to have a weird obsession with Dr. Paul A. Offit. It appears to me that they see no bigger threat on the planet than vaccines, followed closely by Dr. Offit. Of course, we know why they hate vaccines. Dr. Offit’s “crime” was to co-develop a vaccine that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. And that’s not some weird estimate based on opinion. It’s a fact.

But just go read the comments about the doctor. I won’t repeat the vile ones here. Hank has a good sampling.

One thing that is interesting is the complete disconnect from reality that the anti-vaccine activists seem to display. For example, this woman had this comment when a fellow skeptical blogger pointed out that the rotavirus vaccine has, as a matter of fact, saved countless lives:

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I almost commented myself, but a friend and colleague stepped in before I did and pointed out that, yes, rotavirus kills hundreds of thousands of children per year and the vaccine prevents this:

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Presented with actual evidence, the hounds were unleashed:

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Yeah, we’re the morons.

In addition to his random capitalization and insults, “LS” refuted our friend’s link about cancer rates with a WHO link about overall population health, and then he called someone notoriously wrong on vaccines an”higher eminence.” Then he challenged our friend with this:

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I died laughing.

So, does the WHO say something different about cancer than CDC? Remember, in the minds of the anti-vaccine activists, vaccines cause cancer. Yet cancer rates continue to fall. According to CDC:

“Death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease in the United States between 2004 and 2008. The findings are from the latest “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer,” coauthored by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society.”

And…

  • “The overall rate of new cancer diagnoses, also known as incidence, among men decreased by an average of 0.6% per year between 2004 and 2008.
  • Overall cancer incidence rates among women decreased 0.5% per year from 1998 to 2006; rates remained level from 2006 through 2008.
  • Lung cancer death rates among women decreased for the second year in a row. Lung cancer death rates in men have been decreasing since the early 1990s.
  • Colorectal cancer incidence rates decreased among men and women from 1999 through 2008.
  • Breast cancer incidence rates among women decreased from 1999 through 2004, and remained level from 2004 through 2008.
  • Incidence rates of melanoma and pancreas, kidney, thyroid, and liver cancers increased from 1999 through 2008.”

Someone made fun of that 0.6% drop between 2004 and 2008. I wish they could go and laugh in the face of those people who get cancer. Given what they’ve written about Dr. Offit, I wouldn’t put it past them. Now, remember that this is a CDC report on the United States. Here’s what WHO says is going on in the world (my emphasis):

“Infectious diseases will still dominate in developing countries. As the economies of these countries grow, non-communicable diseases will become more prevalent. This will be due largely to the adoption of “western” lifestyles and their accompanying risk factors – smoking, high-fat diet, obesity and lack of exercise. In developed countries, non-communicable diseases will remain dominant. Heart disease and stroke have declined as causes of death in recent decades, while death rates from some cancers have risen.”

But that’s opposed to what CDC said! No, it’s not. WHO is talking worldwide. CDC is talking US only. CDC is talking new diagnoses and death rates by cancer. WHO is talking only death rates, not new diagnoses. Also:

“Cancer will remain one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Only one-third of all cancers can be cured by earlier detection combined with effective treatment. By 2025 the risk of cancer will continue to increase in developing countries, with stable if not declining rates in industrialized countries.”

Well, I’ll be damned. They’re not saying opposite things.

Again, when discussing science with anti-vaccine and anti-science people, you’re not going to convince them to see reality for what it is. More likely than not, they’re going to lash out against you and vilify you like they’ve done with Dr. Offit. They’ll go cherry-pick some study or some article, and they will present it to you as evidence without really knowing what they’re doing. It reads/sounds good, so it’s “evidence.” There’s reality, and then there’s whatever these people want to believe.

One last thing, submitted with no comment:

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But Hepatitis A is a disease of the unclean! WTF?!

It was a little over a year ago that I told you what the National Vaccine Information Center had to say about hepatitis A. Oh, yes, they do mention that you can contract Hepatitis A through contaminated food, but they seem to make a special effort to tell you that you’re okay in the good old USA:

“Hepatitis A is spread almost exclusively by the fecal-oral route and is most often associated with poor sanitation and hygiene, and overcrowded living conditions.

It also is associated with lower socioeconomic status, certain sexual practices, and injected drug use. However, outbreaks of hepatitis A have also occurred in restaurants, daycare centers, nursing homes, and other institutions and community settings.

Some outbreaks of hepatitis A have been traced to contaminated food, water, milk, frozen raspberries and strawberries, and shellfish.

Among adults with identified risk factors, the majority of cases are among men who have sex with men, persons who use illegal drugs, and international travelers. Because transmission of hepatitis A during sexual activity probably occurs because of fecal-oral contact, measures typically used to prevent the transmission of other STDs (e.g., use of condoms) do not prevent hepatitis A transmission.

Hepatitis A infections also have been linked to children adopted from certain countries.”

Those damned immigrant children! Oh, and this:

“Poor personal hygiene can increase the chances of spreading hepatitis A. That is why frequent hand washing with soap and water, particularly after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food, is very important in preventing the spread of hepatitis A.

It also has been identified as a risk factor in daycare centers and intensive care neonatal units.

Travel to Third World countries, where hepatitis A is more prevalent, also is an identified risk factor for getting this infection.”

They seem to be obsessed with third world countries. While it is true that there is a higher incidence of Hep A in third world countries, there is also plenty of Hep A to go around here in the States. But have no fear, there is a vaccine, and this is what that USA Today article has to say about the vaccine and the current outbreak:

“Of the 79 people in seven states who have become ill with the deadly liver disease, only one was a child. Health officials initially feared that the youngest would be hit hardest because the contaminated frozen berries are used in smoothies, popsicles and other warm-weather treats popular among children.

They credit routine vaccinations against hepatitis A since 2006 with protecting children.

“The very, very small number of children involved in this outbreak probably reflects the high vaccination coverage as the result of the routine immunization,” said John Ward, who directs the viral hepatitis program at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The one child who did become ill, a 2-year-old, was not vaccinated, Ward said.”

Imagine that. A vaccine that works, is safe, and can keep children safe from an unneeded medical condition. (Not that there is a “needed” medical condition, but anti-vaxxers will tell you that you “need” chickenpox and measles to make you “stronger.”) Of course, I can play Devil’s Advocate and tell you that children are more likely to be asymptomatic. So you’re less likely to pick up cases of children being sick. BUT you’d see the symptomatic adults that take care of those children. That’s the catch. That’s where the misinformation dealers try to trick you.

I can’t tell you my sources, of course, but those adult cases right now have had children in the household tested, and they’re negative for hepatitis A IgM, the antibody indicator of acute infection. They’re also negative for Hep A virus in the stool. Imagine that.

Of course, leave it up to NVIC to tell you that the vaccine is horrible:

“There is a gap in medical knowledge in terms of predicting who will have an adverse reaction to the hepatitis A vaccine and who will not.

However, reading the manufacturer’s product package inserts (see below) under “contraindications, warnings and precautions, and adverse reactions,” will help you weigh the vaccine’s benefits and risks before making a decision for yourself or your child.

Within the hepatitis A manufacturers’ vaccine package inserts, some of the adverse events reported ranged from fever, to nausea and loss of appetite, to dizziness, and neuromuscular symptoms, including Guillian Barre Syndrome.

According to the CDC, some of the other risks and side effects from this vaccine are:

Mild problems

  • Soreness where the shot was given (about 1 out of 2 adults, and up to 1 out of 6 children)
  • Headache (about 1 out of 6 adults and 1 out of 25 children)
  • Loss of appetite (about 1 out of 12 children)
  • Tiredness (about 1 out of 14 adults)
  • If these problems occur, they usually last 1 or 2 days.

Severe problems

  • Serious allergic reaction, within a few minutes to a few hours of the shot (very rare)”

I bolded and underlined the part about the vaccine package insert because it’s a common ploy of the anti-vaccine groups. See, the manufacturers need to put in the inserts those things that were reported during vaccine trials, whether they happened as a cause of the vaccine or not. If someone caught the flu during the trials, guess what? You have to put in there that “fever” or “nausea” was reported. Guillain-Barre Syndrome happens on it’s own in 1 out of 1,000,000 people, so they would have had to put that on the vaccine insert if one of the people during the trial got it. Furthermore, they need to put in the insert anything that happens after it’s licensed and it’s causally associated with the vaccine. There have been no cases of GBS causally associated with the vaccine, and people who get the vaccine are not at a higher risk for GBS.

So what do we have here? We have an outbreak of hepatitis A in the United States of America, the world’s lone superpower (as long as you don’t tell the Chinese). We’re clean, we wash our hands, and we screen our “third world babies” when we adopt them. (And, in Texas, we don’t have men who have sex with men. [Yeah, we do.])  In that outbreak, one child has been confirmed as a case, and that child was not vaccinated. The vaccinated children in the household of cases tested so far are not sick, and not even infectious (no virus in stool).

One of my colleagues said the other day that people who handle food, from the farm to the plate, should be required to get the Hep A vaccine. I completely agree. Since most of the cases in the US are primarily associated to contaminated food, this would seriously cut down on the number of outbreaks. However, I would go one step further and vaccinate all inmates as they are incarcerated, anyone who has liver disease, and all children, so they don’t pass it on to unsuspecting adults in their family or to other children in their schools.

After all, the benefits outweigh the risks.

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Someone doesn’t understand the difference between a virus and DNA

A virus is an infectious agent that can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. Did you read that? It is an infectious agent. It can replicate inside the cells of the host it infects. A virus is also made up of DNA or RNA (genetic material) encapsulated in an envelope made up of protein or lipid (fat) or both. If a jelly-filled doughnut is a virus, then the dough is the envelope. The jelly is the genetic material. This doughnut would need to be put inside an over (host cells) to replicate. It wouldn’t be able to do it without that over.

Not only that, but the over would have to be a specific type of oven. See, the viruses that cause hepatitis only infect liver cells. The viruses that cause common colds only infect the respiratory pathway. The virus that causes AIDS? It only infects immune cells called T cells. They really are that specific.

Not only that, but viruses are species-specific. Viruses that infect one species need to adapt in order to infect another species. There are viruses all over you right now, and you’re perfectly healthy because they’re not adapted to infect you. However, they might bring death to, say, a cat. Yes, there are viruses like the flu which cross from species to another, but that spillover is not easy. (“Spillover” is also a book you should read.) Continue reading

NVIC: Information that’s not information, the return

Not a lot of time today. There are a lot of things happening too fast for me to properly juggle all of them AND keep you informed. So I’m turning it over to a friend of the blog, Mr. Todd, to tell you all about the latest from the National Vaccine (mis)Information Center and the “information” they want you to believe.

Go read his post here. It’s worth it, and it’s worth taking some action.

A quick post about Alzheimer’s and the flu shot

I’m watching the NFL Playoffs, but I wanted to show you something. Check this out:

No, that’s not an association devoted to the study of flu shots and Alzheimer’s. It’s a slide from a presentation intended to show evidence of an association between getting the flu shot and then getting Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain, where your memory, ability to think, and — in essence — who you are is gone little by little. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and it was horrible to see her be lost inside herself as we lost her before she died.

The physician presenting this is named in that slide, and, coincidentally, in this disciplinary action by the board of medical examiners of South Carolina. I’m not one to attack a person’s shortcomings when debating science, so I won’t. Still, it’s interesting.

Anyway, look at the second bullet point:

“If an individual has had five or more consecutive flu shots his/her chances of getting alzheimer’s is 10 times higher than if they had 1, 2, or no shots.”

To explain this perceived “association” that is being presented as causation, let’s ask ourselves one question: Who gets Alzheimer’s? To answer that question, let’s turn to a reputable source (not one that has been found to be “guilty of engaging in dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct“). The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that you are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s the older you get. (Although Alzheimer’s is “not a normal part of aging”.) So older people are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Now, ask yourself, who is more likely to have had “five or more consecutive flu shots”? Well, for a very long time, people age 65 and older have been recommended to get the flu vaccine because they are at risk for serious complications if they do get the flu. Funny how two things that are most common in older people are said to be “associated”, though a causal relationship is implied. Don’t you think?

Furthermore, Alzheimer’s was first medically classified in 1906, though it has been described since ancient times. The influenza virus was not identified until the 1930’s, and the first flu vaccines were not developed until the 1940’s. Of course, in an attempt to describe as a causation something that is just an association, anti-vaccinationists will tell you that the cases of Alzheimer’s increased when the flu vaccine came around. Well, life expectancy at birth, in the United States, crossed over into the 65+ age range in the late 1940’s. Guess what else increased then as people were living older and into the risk age of Alzheimer’s? (HINT: Alzheimer’s)

By anti-vaccine logic, the flu vaccine boosted the life expectancy. (It might have helped a little.)

What does the Alzheimer’s Association have to say about all this? THIS:

To be honest, I’d rather they stick to the evidence and not attack the physician

One last thing before I get back to the Texans beating up the Bengals. Take note on who sponsored this “International Vaccine Conference”. Yep. It’s the “National Vaccine Information Center”. I’ve told you before why they should take the “information” part out of their name before here, here, here, and here. And now… Well, I’ve said it again.

Go Texans!

NVIC: Information that’s not. Exhibit D

I’ve written to you before on how the NVIC (the “National Vaccine Information Center”) should probably take the word “information” off its name. I wrote it here, here, and here. Today, I bring you exhibit D in this lengthy tale of what I consider to be misinformation. (And I’m not the only one that thinks thus.)

I wrote before about how NVIC takes information from the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting Systems (VAERS) and presents it out of context and without the disclaimers present in the real VAERS reporting site. In the VAERS data site, you will be told this:

“When evaluating data from VAERS, it is important to note that for any reported event, no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”

If this disclaimer is anywhere on the NVIC site that gives you VAERS data, I can’t find it.

So let’s look at Exhibit D. This exhibit is an entry into VAERS that is being touted as evidence of the dangers of the shingles vaccine. When an anti-vaxer is asked to provide evidence that the shingles vaccine is bad, they point to this entry provided by NVIC:

“Between 4:30 PM and 5:15PM, I consumed several alcohol drinks for New Years Eve and became immediately intoxicated. The amount of alcohol consumed has never intoxicated me. My husband drove me home and after arriving home, became dizzy and collapsed on bathroom floor. Bruised hip and top of hand is only injuries. I have never had this happen to me before and feel it was possibly due to the recent vaccination for Shingles that caused this immediate intoxication. The paperwork provided at the time of vaccination did not say you could not consume alcohol within the few hours after receiving it but obviously it had an adverser effect on me.”

Of course! How did modern medicine miss this? Consuming “several alcohol drinks for New Years Eve” and then becoming “immediately intoxicated” must be due to the shingles vaccine. So did the husband become ill too?

“My husband drove me home and after arriving home, became dizzy and collapsed on bathroom floor.”

Maybe it’s just bad grammar. We’re all guilty of that. Or maybe the husband also drank a lot. In any case, the person uses the same excuse I’ve heard over and over from people that have bad things happen to them when they drink: I’ve always been able to control my liquor.

What about that “paperwork”? Did it really not mention alcohol? It didn’t.

Here is the information page from CDC about the vaccine. There’s nothing in it mentioning alcohol.

Here is the package insert from Merck (PDF), the manufacturer. There is nothing in it mentioning alcohol.

I did a search of the literature and found nothing stating that alcohol should not be consumed after having the vaccine.

And then I did a Google search. Nothing. But NVIC will not tell you this. They’ll present this to you, and many other VAERS entries, without any context. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.