Monday, October 28, 2013

Propaganda of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Photo: Wikimedia

The Internet can be a great source of information. It can also be an unfortunate source of propaganda. There are no regulations on what is posted on the Internet and many people and websites take full advantage of this.

Natural News recently published an article stating that the whooping cough vaccine can cause brain damage and death. The article was published in response to Missouri offering a free vaccine after approximately 41,000 cases of whooping cough occurred in the U.S. in 2012. There were less than 19,000 cases in 2011.  Both and Natural News advocate natural remedies and state that vaccine dangers outweigh the risk of actually getting the disease.

In yet another propaganda article, Natural News contends that 98 million Americans were given polio vaccines contaminated with a cancer-causing virus and claim that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admit this. The link to the article isn’t on CDC’s web site, because Natural News claims CDC removed it. They have a link to an archived copy of the article that doesn’t work. Natural News lists their sources for both of these articles – but all of the sources are either their own articles or other propaganda sites. No real science or doctors are quoted.

At Natural Blaze, Christina England blames vaccines for infertility problems in women. She states that thousands of women are infertile because of vaccines and that governments are using vaccines in women as fertility control guinea pigs. Her sources also fail to include doctors or sound science. England is also co-author of the book on Shaken Baby Syndrome with discredited Dr. Harold Buttram.

In a final case of anti-vaccination propaganda, the Tap Blog states that the Hepatitis B vaccine killed three newborn babies in Vietnam, although the reports hadn’t been confirmed when the article was published.  The blog contends that children shouldn’t be receiving the vaccine because its an adult disease – and that there are no horror stories of children contracting the disease. The blog again fails to offer any sources with real science or the reasons the Hepatitis B vaccine is necessary.

Contradicting that blog post, Taiwanese researchers report a 90 percent reduction in deaths from complications of hepatitis B since the country began its infant vaccination program in 1984. Hepatitis B can be spread from mothers to newbords and there are 350 million chronic carriers of hepatitis B in the world, with most in the Asia-Pacific region and sub-Saharan Africa. 12 million Americans (or 1 in 20 people) have been infected, with 100,000 new infections every year.

The World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local physician are the most reliable sources for vaccine safety information. Internet articles about vaccines should be studied carefully and sources checked – many of the scare tactics used in these articles are not true and can be detrimental to your child’s safety.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Name Can Be Misleading

Harold Buttram, MD
A name can lend credibility to an organization, when it really shouldn’t. The International Medical Council on Vaccination posted an article earlier this year written in 2011 by Harold Buttram, MD and Catherine Frompovich stating that vaccines are turning children’s immune systems inside out. Citing the research of Russell Blaylock, the article claims that repeated stimulation of the brain’s immune system results in intense reactions. All of this is completely false.

The International Medical Council on Vaccination sounds like a legitimate organization, but looking through the history of their site, Vaccine Watch found they aren’t. They have a history of not publishing debates and articles that don’t support their views. Many of the professionals on the International Medical Council on Vaccination site, chiropractors, homeopaths, and doctors, are anti-vaccine activists.

Buttram has been advocating against vaccines for years. Earlier in his career, he blamed Shaken Baby Syndrome on vaccines. The first three sources of the article are all from Russell Blaylock, MD, who claims on his personal website that alphabet organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can’t be trusted.

The article details cellular and humoral immunity. Buttram contends that vaccination establishes the humoral system as dominant, which he claims is the reverse of the natural immunologic scheme that humans evolved with. He further claims that immune systems may be going through progressive atrophy from disuse without the challenges of “minor childhood diseases.” 

Buttram goes on to state, “As a matter of opinion, vaccinations for chickenpox and mumps were totally uncalled for, as they were almost always benign illnesses that likely were serving a useful and positive role in priming and strengthening cellular immunity and response mechanisms.” Buttram never had to deal with the painful and uncomfortable situation children with mumps or chicken pox face.

He then states that death from diseases like measles and whooping cough declined before the vaccines were introduced and that improvements in sanitation and the introduction of antibiotics were more important than vaccines. Again, this is a false statement.

The CDC addresses many of the misconceptions Buttram brings up on their website. For instance, looking at a graph on the rate of measles in the United States from 1950-2001 you see peaks and valleys and the disease rate holding steady in the range of 500,000 cases per year.  When the vaccine was introduced the rate dropped down to near 0 and has remained there.

Every day, the immune systems of babies and children successfully fight off millions of antigens.  Vaccines have antigens from a weakened or killed germ in a fraction of the number that the normal child encounters every day. Vaccination saves lives and prevents serious disease outbreaks. Distorting facts and spreading misinformation like the article in International Medical Council on Vaccination is irresponsible.  Parents with questions about vaccination should speak with their child’s physician.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Misinformation Threatens Pentavalent Vaccine Use

In September, a doctor filed public interest litigation in the Supreme Court calling for a ban on the pentavalent vaccine. This vaccine is a five-in-one shot that combines hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus with a new vaccine for Haemophilus influenze type b (Hib). The doctor and critics claim that the pentavalent vaccine is killing children because 21 children in India have died. However, no causative link has been found and critics continue to use fear-mongering to threaten lives.

Hib is a major cause of bacterial meningitis and pneumonia in the Philippines, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. According to Unicef, 177 countries incorporate the Hib vaccine used in pentavalent in their immunization program. Indonesia recently introduced pentavalent into its national vaccine program. Around 8.2 million doses of the pentavalent vaccine have been administered in India since 2009.

Critics have continued to spread misinformation by linking the vaccine to children’s deaths, and this threatens the lives of more children.  Unicef says that 1.66 million children in India die every year from pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition and complications at birth. All of these deaths are preventable.

T. John Jacob is a retired professor of clinical virology at Christian Medical College in India and states that critics are putting children at risk. “Disgruntled doctors misusing data combined with an irresponsible press can damage public opinion and lead policymakers into panicked decisions that are not based on scientific evidence. The consequences can be dangerous and long lasting,” Jacob states.

He also notes that any intervention can carry risk – but not always because of the product. For instance, automobiles aren’t always blamed for deaths in automobile accidents.

Grant LaFleche from The Standard in Canada stated in a recent blog post that the anti-vaccination movement should be held responsible through fines or some other accountability method. He referenced the measles and whooping cough outbreaks and notes, “Dangerous and sometimes lethal diseases were controlled through the use of vaccines. To continue to undo that progress means increased health-care costs, more sick people and more preventable deaths.”

Vaccines are one of the greatest scientific inventions of our time. Vaccine Watch encourages everyone to seek answers to their questions from reputable sources and to analyze all of the facts in articles that attempt to increase fear of vaccines.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vaccines, Infants and Court

Numerous scientific studies have proven that there is no link between vaccines and autism. However, sound science has not prevented people from claiming vaccines caused their child’s autism. Vaccine Court, or the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, settled two separate cases to children suffering various conditions earlier this year.  Although the cases had no merit, they have been misinterpreted because they were settled.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), which is the defendant in vaccine court, conceded the cases because they couldn’t dedicate any more resources to defending them.

Huffington Post and the website VacTruth reported the case of Ryan Mojabi, a ten-year old boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Ryan received the MMR shot in December 2003 and left days after the shot for Tehran.   While in Tehran, he was admitted to the hospital with measles like rash, high fever and other symptoms.  The doctor in Tehran said the symptoms were most likely the result of the MMR vaccine.  It was determined he had encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, and later he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The case was unpublished, so the information surrounding Ryan’s vaccination and autism struggle is limited.  However, it was noted that despite his adverse reactions to the December 2003 vaccine and subsequent hospitalization while overseas, that he continued to receive vaccines through 2005.  It was also noted that he had adverse reactions following all of the vaccinations.  These two statements raised a lot of questions for Vaccine Watch. 

The second case involves a little girl named Emily Moller.  Her case has been in court for the last ten years, since her mother claimed that the DTaP vaccine Emily received at 15 months led to a seizure disorder, encephalitis and later, a diagnosis of ASD.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that autism is an urgent health concern and supports comprehensive research.  CDC is focusing on understanding ASD, advancing research for causes and treatments, and improving early detection.  There are still many unknowns about autism, including if encephalitis and autism are linked.

Natural Society reported a third case, where a family was awarded $475,000 after their daughter died from an auto-immune disease they claim was caused by the hepatitis b vaccine.  Natural Society argues that the hepatitis b vaccine should not be given because there are too many risks.

The CDC website states that 12.5 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis b at some point in their lifetime.  This serious virus can lead to chronic liver disease and liver cancer.  Lifelong infections are more probable in those infected during infancy. 

CDC states that vaccination continues so that diseases can’t make a comeback. While autism is more common than it once was, numerous studies have proven that vaccines and autism are not linked. Parents should discuss any concerns they have with their child’s pediatrician.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Flu Shots for Everyone

Last year, four influenza vaccines were available to the public. But as technology expands – so do the options and six different flu vaccines will be available this season. “Instead of a one-size fits all approach, we are moving to vaccines…for individual patients,” states Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.  “The flip side of that,” he continues, “is that this will be a confusing year.” Doctors and patients may have questions about which vaccine is best for them.

The six vaccines available include: an egg-free shot, a micro-needle shot, a nasal spray, a high-dosage shot, and two forms of the standard shot. The egg-free shot is for those with egg allergies, the micro-needle shot is for people afraid of needles – it is less painful and only penetrates the skin. The nasal spray is for toddlers and children, while the high-dosage shot is for senior citizens. The standard shot comes in a three-strain version and a four-strain version. The four-strain version can cost up to 30% more than the three-strain version.

Statistics report that up to 20% of the U.S. population gets sick with the flu every year. By creating new shots that reach more people, medical professionals hope to get more than the usual 40% of the population immunized this year. Dr. Michael Shaw of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that in a few years, all of the vaccines will offer the four-strain protection at a standard price, and concludes that more vaccine options will lead to fewer flu cases. Fewer flu cases can save both lives and health care costs.

CDC states that approximately 24,000 people die from the flu each year and recommend the vaccine for nearly everyone 6 months and older. An estimated 139 million does of flu vaccine will be produced this year, with 30 million of those being the four-strain flu virus. The CDC estimates that as many as 485 deaths will be prevented by the four-strain vaccine.

In an effort to encourage vaccination, medical professionals across the country are getting creative. For instance, Vanderbilt University hosted its third annual Flulapalooza on September 25th. The event lasts for twelve hours and offers free flu vaccines to faculty, staff and students.

Most health insurance programs and Medicare cover flu shots and some plans don’t require a co-pay. This simple preventative measure can save you from battling a nasty case of the flu or ending up in the hospital. Vaccine Watch encourages everyone to consult his or her physician about getting a flu shot this fall.