Every Breath Counts So Help Put a Stop to Pneumonia

November 12, 2015 2 comments

As we observe the seventh annual World Pneumonia Day, individuals and organizations from around the world are coming together once again to raise awareness about pneumonia and make sure that every breath counts.

Pneumonia is a Leading Killer

Infographic-1-e1446736718310Each year there are approximately 900,000 deaths in children under the age of five from pneumonia across the globe.

While 51% of these deaths occur in only 6 countries, pneumonia isn’t just a threat to children in third world countries.  The CDC reported that pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of hospitalizations and deaths in U.S. adults, costing more than $10 billion in 2011 alone.

Many factors contribute to pneumonia, and so there are many ways we can work to help prevent, treat and control this disease.  Consider the following five simple but effective interventions.

Vaccines are Key to the Fight Against Pneumonia

Vaccines against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus can all help reduce the incidence of pneumonia.  However, for many of the world’s population, the issue is one of access.

As Dr. Orin Levine, Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explains in his Huffington Post article,

“Thankfully, 132 countries have introduced a vaccine to protect against pneumonia. In fact, it was within months of the first World Pneumonia Day that the very first developing country—Rwanda—rolled out the pneumococcal vaccine with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In addition, the world’s 73 poorest countries have all introduced the pentavalent vaccine—which protects against Hib, another major cause of pneumonia—again with Gavi support.”

e079a503-172b-4437-a697-15b449204c93-original-e1447249559483While this is amazing progress, Dr. Levine goes on to explain that an estimated 51% of the world’s infants live in countries that do not offer access to pneumococcal vaccines. Of course, getting vaccines to these children must be a top priority. Read more…

Is it Common for Doctors to Dismiss Patients Who Refuse Vaccines?

November 2, 2015 28 comments

A new study published in Pediatrics examines the characteristics of doctors who dismiss families for refusing vaccines for their children.

While almost all of the 534 pediatricians and family physicians who were surveyed for the study have encountered parents who refuse vaccines, the survey also indicated that vaccine refusal is generally rare. Overall, 83% of doctors reported that 1% or fewer parents refuse one or more infant vaccines in a typical month.

When that happens, 21% of pediatricians and 4% of family physicians said they “always” or “often” dismiss these families, and 51% reported “always” or “often” requiring parents to sign a form if they refused.  However, there were some doctors who estimated that vaccine refusal in their practices were  between 1% to 4% of parents they encountered and some saying as many as 5% of parents they saw refused vaccines.

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Image by the “Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes” Facebook page.

Although the survey was conducted in 2012, it has been published in a year when people are increasingly frustrated by recurring outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.  For instance, following the well publicized measles outbreaks that occurred in Disneyland late last year, there has been a surge of public support for strong immunization policies that favor vaccination for school children, daycare workers and healthcare employees.  This swell of public support has often been discussed as the catalyst for the record number of new legislative bills that were introduced this year in an attempt to reduce school vaccine exemptions and boost childhood vaccination rates in various states across the country.  While there is a general consensus that more needs to be done to educate parents about the benefits of vaccines, the question of whether doctors should refuse patients who decline vaccines is an ongoing debate that has drawn a great deal of commendation and criticism.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC discourage physicians from refusing to see patients who refuse vaccines.  Instead, they have tried to urge physicians to continue to treat these children in hopes that an ongoing relationship with these parents will help build the kind of trust that may eventually lead them to reconsider their vaccination choices for their children.

Meanwhile, doctors who refuse unvaccinated patients have various reasons for doing so.

Read more…

Dr. Schaffner Helps Clear Up the Confusion on Meningococcal Vaccines

October 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Christine Vara:

Since outbreaks of meningococcal serogroup B began occurring on various college campuses late last year, resulting in several student deaths, there has been a lot of interest in a new meningococcal serogroup B vaccine. One of the biggest challenges that have come along with the introduction of this new vaccine is that parents are confused about the offering of two different meningococcal vaccines that prevent various strains of meningococcal disease.

Featured Image -- 7456To complicate matters, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued a “permissive recommendation” for the new serogroup B vaccine, which many suggest will make doctors less likely to recommend the vaccine to all their patients, but will allow parents to request the vaccine for their child.

Fortunately, Dr. William Schaffner wrote an excellent article for the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (NFID) that we have reblogged below that provides a thorough explanation of meningococcal disease, the different meningococcal vaccines that are available to patients, and the facts parents need to know to make an educated immunization plan for their child.

Originally posted on NFID News:

Special thanks to William Schaffner, MD, NFID Medical Director and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, for this guest blog post on the recently published Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meningococcal serogroup B immunization recommendation.

Parents usually rely on their child’s pediatrician to keep them up-to-date on vaccines. But the updated meningococcal vaccine recommendation recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is different. The new recommendation paves the way for adolescents and young adults to get vaccinated against a rare, but deadly infection called serogroup B meningococcal disease–but it puts more responsibility on parents to seek and request the vaccine.

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes meningitis (brain swelling) or sepsis (blood infection). Serogroup B is just one of several types of bacteria that cause the disease. Four other serogroups (A, C, W, and Y) are…

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Take Action to Demand Federal Funding of Immunization Programs

October 29, 2015 324 comments

Right now, we need the voice of constituents to help support our nation’s immunization infrastructure.

317 CoalitionEvery Child By Two, as one of the founding members of the 317 Coalition, has been actively engaged with other leaders in the immunization community in advocating for federal appropriations to support our nation’s immunization infrastructure.  The focus of the 317 Coalition is to ensure that Congress adequately funds vaccine activities at the national, state and local levels.

However, as budgets continue to dwindle, legislators need to hear from constituents, like yourself, who agree that funding for vaccines is the most cost-effective health intervention known to mankind. That is why Every Child By Two is encouraging everyone to take action and contact your federal representatives in support of robust funding in the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill for the CDC’s Section 317 Immunization program. 

The majority of Section 317 program funds, over 75%, are used to support critical infrastructure functions such as vaccine effectiveness studies, disease surveillance, outbreak detection and response, vaccine coverage assessment, vaccine safety and provider education programming.  A smaller portion supports vaccine purchases for adult immunization programs that help to achieve high vaccination coverage, reduce health disparities among various populations, and provide underserved populations with vaccines to protect them from disease.  Quite simply, the mission of the coalition is to educate Members of Congress about the needs of the CDC immunization program, and not make or attempt to influence immunization policy.

Our nation was fortunate that the 317 program was funded at $611 million in FY 2015. Looking ahead, the House of Representatives has proposed to reduce funding of the program to $585.5 million in FY 2016, while the Senate maintains level funding at $611 million.  If the program were to be funded at the House’s proposed funding level, the reduction in funding of over $25 million would most certainly harm the immunization infrastructure, as well as reduce adult vaccine purchase functions in every state.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to alert your representatives about the importance of 317 funding, and urge them to support the Senate’s FY 2016 funding level of $611 million.  

What you can do:

Read more…

Afraid of an Allergic Reaction to Vaccines? Chances are One in a Million

October 22, 2015 4 comments

It’s a fairly common concern.  What are the chances that I will have an allergic reaction to a vaccine?  And if so, how dangerous could it be?  What about my kids?

schoolvaccinationsAt the onset of almost every doctor’s visit, patients are asked to identify what, if anything, they are allergic to.  For some, it’s a long list of food, environmental allergens, or even medications.  For others, who don’t have allergies, there is always the concern that an unknown allergy may exist, and the fear is heightened by not knowing when, or how, that allergy may reveal itself.

When it comes to vaccinations, parents and children can breathe a little easier now.  A study that was recently published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology determined that the odds that a vaccine will trigger a serious or potentially fatal allergic reaction is very slim.  In fact, it’s about one in a million (or 1.31 in a million to be exact).

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) searched the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) databases to identify potential anaphylaxis cases following any vaccine. After reviewing 25 million vaccines administered between the years of 2009 to 2011, they found that just 33 people had a serious or potentially life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

After reviewing the records from more than 17 million visits, researchers identified the following:

  • 380 cases of anaphylaxis, possible anaphylaxis, or allergy of which only 135 involved children 5 years old or younger
  • no cases of vaccine induced anaphylaxis in children less than 4 years old
  • none of the people who had anaphylaxis died, and only one had to be hospitalized
  • pre-existing allergies, asthma or past anaphylaxis, which are known risk factors for anaphylaxis, were a factor in as many as 85% of these cases
  • epinephrine (the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis) — was only given in 15 cases, whereas antihistamines and corticosteroids were the preferred treatment by caregivers in the remaining cases
  • only 9% of those who had a serious allergic reaction had a documented prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector
  • only 15% were known to have been referred to an allergist for follow-up after the reaction occurred

Anaphylaxis is a serious and life-threatening allergic reaction, so it’s understandable to be concerned about the risk of allergic reaction to vaccines, especially among children with known allergies.  However, while most common anaphylactic reactions are to foods, insect stings, medications and latex, this study helps identify that there is a very low risk of anaphylaxis as a result of vaccination. Read more…

Why Delay Vaccines For Your Child?

October 8, 2015 56 comments

I hear this often.  

“I plan to vaccinate, but I’m going to wait until my child is a bit older and better able to handle the vaccines.”  

And this.

“I’ll vaccinate my child.  I just prefer to space them out for my child and only do one at a time.”

Parents who choose to delay vaccines, or design their own vaccination schedule, do so because they believe it will be safer for their baby.

They typically want their children to be protected from preventable diseases, but they’re not convinced they need to follow the CDC’s recommended schedule in order to do that.

Some parents find it hard to accept that one schedule can be suitable for all children and so they feel more comfortable with a schedule that they design themselves – one which gives them the freedom to administer their children’s vaccines one at a time, or maybe even when the child is older.  Some parents make these decisions because they’re concerned that the recommended schedule somehow puts their child at risk of suffering some adverse event or reaction.  Essentially, parents who delay vaccines, or space them out, believe they’re providing a safer option for their child.

Unfortunately, the opposite can be true.

Deviating from the well-tested and recommended schedule can actually put a child at greater risk of disease, without ever reducing their risk of adverse events.  Parents often fail to see the harm in spacing out vaccines, but they also fail to acknowledge the increased risk of disease and the data that supports the safety of the recommended schedule.

How can it be safe for such a small child to receive so many vaccines at a single visit?

Some parents worry that too many vaccines administered at such a young age may overwhelming a baby’s immune system.  Some might even believe that this could lead to injury or developmental delay.  It’s understandable that parents have these fears, but a good hard look at the science indicates that there is simply no evidence to support those fears.

Vaccines are designed to facilitate a baby’s own immune system, not overload it like the diseases have been known to do.  From the moment a baby is born they grow and thrive in a largely unsterile environment. Every day a baby’s immune system is bombarded with trillions of new threats in the air they breathe, on the hard surfaces they touch, and in everything they put in their mouths.

While children today receive more immunizations than their parents did, today’s vaccines are safer and contain less antigens.  Antigens are the elements of the vaccine that contain the weakened or killed versions of the germs that cause the disease.  They are the critical part of the vaccine that stimulate the immune response.  A child who receives all the recommended vaccines based on the 2014 childhood immunization schedule may be exposed to up to 315 antigens through vaccination by the age of 2However, in 1980, that figure was as high as 3,041 antigens.  So the argument that today’s schedule is more dangerous simply because there are more vaccines is simply not supported. Read more…

Dr. Harrison Exposes Anne Dachel’s Inept Evidence on Age of Autism

October 1, 2015 Comments off
journalsEvery Child By Two is pleased to launch another article in their Expert Commentary series which will be referenced here on Shot of Prevention with links to the in-depth articles available on the Every Child By Two website.  This series features guest writer Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, a retired epidemiologist who has worked in the areas of preventive medicine, infectious diseases, medical outcomes research, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Dr. Harrison volunteers his time to provide in-depth and expert analysis of articles which ultimately make false claims about the safety of vaccines.  Today we will feature Dr. Harrison’s latest paper, Deficient Science, Hypocrisy & Bogus Arguments: Two Articles by Age of Autism’s Anne Dachel.

by Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

Over the past several decades, a number of bloggers and organizations have claimed that vaccines and/or their ingredients cause a number of disorders, foremost among these is autism. The results of their efforts have been a decline in vaccine coverage and a rise in previously rare childhood diseases resulting in unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, long-term disabilities, and even death.

Anne Dachel is a regular contributor and Media Editor for Age of Autism.

In two recent Age of Autism articles, “Dachel Media Update: Willingham Wanders Into Waldo” and “Dachel Media Update: Forbes’ Emily Willingham Has Made Up Your Mind”, Dachel criticizes several articles by Emily Willingham, a science writer at Forbes. As this paper will show, from Dachel’s own articles it is clear:

  1. Dachel literally doesn’t understand epidemiology and causal inference.
  2. Dachel displays poor scholarship in claiming that vaccine supporters rely solely on epidemiological studies, missing the numerous references to animal and other research types.
  3. Dachel is hypocritical in criticizing epidemiological studies while promoting/advocating for an epidemiological study comparing never vaccinated to vaccinated.
  4. Dachel resorts to a typical logical fallacy, ad hominem attacks.
  5. Dachel is hypocritical to imply, with NO credible evidence, that Emily Willingham is a “pharma shill“ by stating “Emily Willingtoworkforpharmaaham’s version is below” while she proudly refers to her own for-profit sponsor.
  6. Dachel’s approach is great propaganda for the uninformed; but not a valid scholarly approach. In neither of her articles does Dachel actually address what Willingham writes. Dachel could have directly critiqued each of the points Willingham made, including specific information from the writings she mentions; but she didn’t. Instead, Dachel refers to writings that Willingham may or may not have read. Using Dachel’s approach one could critique just about any article by throwing in a reference to another article or book without giving any details.
  7. Dachel, like many antivaccinationists, takes the approach that people are guilty until proven innocent or, perhaps, guilty with no possibility of proving innocence. However, it is a basic American principle to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Read more…


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