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

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…

CDC Answers Top Questions About Flu

September 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Originally posted on NFID News:

Dan Jernigan, CDCAt the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (NFID) 2015 Annual Influenza/Pneumococcal News Conference held in Washington, DC last week, expert panelists spoke about the burden of influenza (flu) in the US and the importance of annual flu vaccination as the best way to protect yourself and your family.

Special thanks to Daniel B. Jernigan, MD, MPH, Director of the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for sharing his perspective on the importance of annual flu vaccination for all people 6 months of age and older.

How serious is the flu?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness. Flu seasons can vary in severity depending on what viruses are circulating, but the flu is much more than a nuisance or common cold. Every flu season, millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized…

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Flu Doesn’t Discriminate So Be Sure To Vaccinate

September 22, 2015 2 comments

Make Sure You are Covered tEach year statistics remind us that anyone can suffer, die or be hospitalized as a result of the flu. That is why influenza vaccine is recommended each and every year for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exceptions.

Sure, some people will think this recommendation doesn’t apply to them.  Maybe they consider themselves healthy and not at risk for flu.  Maybe they’ve been lucky enough never to have suffered with the flu, and just don’t realize how bad it can be.  

But our luck can change at any moment.

We can’t predict if, or when, we may be exposed to flu. We can’t predetermine how long it may be before we recover, or if we will suffer complications.  And we certainly can’t explain why an otherwise healthy individual could end up hospitalized or dead from flu.  But we can share stories of those who’ve been afflicted by flu, and reinforce the messages delivered by the CDC and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) at a special press conference last week:

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu.

Marla Dalton, NFID Executive Director, receives a flu vaccine during the NFID News Conference

Marla Dalton, NFID Executive Director, receives a flu vaccine during the NFID News Conference

By getting your flu shot you can protect yourself, while also helping prevent influenza from spreading in your community. Such a simple gesture can actually save the lives of infants who are too young to be vaccinated, cancer patients who have a compromised immune system, or those who struggle with asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.  A recent study even provided evidence that adult flu vaccination helped reduce the amount of flu among the elderly.

So this flu season, consider how dangerous influenza can be for people of all ages, and get vaccinated to protect yourself, as well as your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors.

What last year’s statistics tell us.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service; Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory DIseases, CDC, receives an annual flu vaccine.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service; Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory DIseases, CDC, receives an annual flu vaccine.

Not only is the flu very unpredictable, but the circulating strains can vary, and the populations that seem to suffer the most can also fluctuate from year to year.

Last year’s statistics tell us that the 2014–15 influenza season was moderately severe, but it was especially severe in adults over the age of 65. We’ve also learned that the majority of influenza A (H3N2) viruses that were circulating last season had drifted from the virus component contained in the vaccine.  This impaired the efficacy of the vaccine, and may have resulted in the public questioning the value of the vaccine.  However, as Dr. Frieden explained at last week’ press event,

“Overall, the flu vaccine is usually 50-60% effective.”  He went on to say that, “It doesn’t matter which flu vaccine you get, just get one.”

Flu is a threat to everyone, regardless of age.

Flu in Infants:

Severe complications from flu are most common in children under the age of two.

Unfortunately, infants who are under six months of age are not able to be vaccinated for flu.  That is why the best way to protect babies of this age is to ensure that everyone around them stays healthy and flu-free!  That includes mom and dad, brothers and sisters, grandparents, caregivers and even daycare and healthcare providers.

Flu in Pregnant Women:

The best way a mother can protect her infant child is to get vaccinated herself during her pregnancy. Infants born to mothers who received the influenza vaccine during pregnancy have a lower risk of contracting flu or being hospitalized due to flu.  That’s because the mother’s immunity transfers to the baby through the placenta to help protect her baby before the baby is old enough to be vaccinated.

Pregnant women also experience changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy that make them more prone to severe illness from flu. By getting vaccinated, an expectant woman can reduce her risk of hospitalization as well as  premature labor and delivery. [Read the story of Leslie Creekmore to understand the risk of flu in pregnancy.]

Last flu season, 32% of women who were hospitalized with flu between the ages of 15-44 years of age were pregnant. You can help reduce this statistic by encouraging flu vaccination among the pregnant women you know. Read more…

Fact Checking GOP Candidates on the Subject of Vaccines

September 17, 2015 8 comments

vaxnoautism1The day after any GOP Presidential Debate there is guaranteed to be a lot of conversation over false claims made by presidential hopefuls.  Today is no different.  

By now, you may have seen the various news clips and numerous articles that pertain to comments made by several GOP candidates on the topic of vaccines and vaccine safety.

Immunization experts are concerned because these statements are not all supported by scientific evidence. It is imperative that the American public understands that the recommended vaccine schedule is not only safe, but that is has been effective in saving three-quarter of a million lives, preventing 322 million illnesses, avoiding 21,000 hospitalizations, and saving $1.38 trillion in health care costs in the U.S. over the past two decades alone.

Today, organizations that work to educate the public on the topics of vaccines and autism, such as Every Child By Two and the Autism Science Foundation, have issued formal statements in response to the many inaccuracies made by several Presidential candidates last night.


Statement from Every Child By Two Regarding Vaccine Comments Made During the GOP Debate on September 16, 2015

Last night’s GOP debate was a disaster for children’s health. The politicization of childhood vaccines to grab headlines forgets the true purpose of immunization: To save lives.

Our country has achieved the highest immunization rates in history thanks to the vast majority of parents who are choosing to vaccinate their children according to the rigorously tested vaccine schedule recommended by CDC. In fact, the percentage of children who receive no vaccinations in this country is less than 1%. The CDC schedule has been carefully developed with an eye toward protecting vulnerable infants as early as possible against dangerous infectious diseases. Study after study shows that vaccines are just a drop in the ocean compared to the tens of thousands of challenges a baby’s immune system is exposed to the moment she leaves her mother’s womb. Yet, some parents today are being swayed by misinformation that has caused them to delay or decline vaccinating their children, jeopardizing the health of many others. The measles outbreak earlier this year in California is a poignant reminder of our need to protect all children.

For hundreds of years, politicians on both sides of the aisles have supported vaccinations by making real and meaningful laws to protect the public’s health. We cannot turn children’s health into another pointless political battleground.

Every Child By Two- Carter/Bumpers Champions for Immunization (ECBT) is a nonprofit organization committed to reducing the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases among families. Founded in 1991 by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers, ECBT plays an integral role in helping to set immunization bi-partisan policies and implement vaccination efforts that have lasting impact on the health of our nation.

ASF-Square-Logo_400x400A Reckless Discussion About Vaccines and Autism Hits the Political Stage

Don’t take your medical advice from a politician.

Donald Trump is a part of a fringe movement that includes Jenny McCarthy and others who have dangerously perpetuated the false link between vaccines and autism. The facts are clear. Vaccines do not cause autism. Some people may not like the facts, but they don’t get to change them, even if they are running for president of the United States.

Politicians aren’t pediatricians and they are wrong to speak casually about altering the vaccine schedule in an effort to score political points. The CDC vaccine schedule is carefully and scientifically developed to protect children when they are most vulnerable. Many diseases are far more deadly if contracted by an infant. All vaccines are important. It’s alarming that the physicians on the stage at the debate on September 16th didn’t know better.

We have seen the effects of misinformation on our children’s health. The measles outbreak at the beginning of this year that began in California is just one example of what can happen when we don’t protect our children by vaccinating on-time, every time.

If you are wondering about the safety of vaccines, please take a moment to visit the websites of the organizations quoted above.  Vaccines are continuously and extensively studied, and contrary to what some politicians may believe, the science tells us that the schedule is safe, vaccines don’t cause autism, and there is no basis of concern that infants may be getting too many vaccines too soon.

There is plenty of information on our Vaccinate Your Baby website, to include links to numerous peer-reviewed studies that address each and every concern.  We encourage you to review them all and share them widely.

Miss Colorado Reminds America That Nursing Is A Talent

September 16, 2015 5 comments

There has been a lot of social media attention given to a monologue that was delivered by a nurse in the Miss American pageant earlier this week.  Nurse Kelley Johnson, who also happened to be a contestant in the pageant representing the state of Colorado, took this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to highlight the importance of nurses in our society during the talent portion of the program.

While there have been plenty of critiques of her monologue, what I found most compelling about the monologue was what she said, not how she said it or what she was wearing when she said it. 

Yes, her story was simple, but it was also very powerful and emotional. 

Miss Colorado began the monologue by recounting her conversations with one particular Alzheimer’s patient.  She explained the apologies she would make to him for being “just a nurse,” and not being authorized to accommodate certain requests, such as a change in medications.  As the story unfolds, we discover that this particular patient, Joe, helped Kelley to realize that she was so much more than “just a nurse”.  Joe may have had Alzheimer’s but he appreciated the fact that Kelley not only cared for his physical needs as a patient, but that she also respected him as a person who deserved to be treated with  respect and dignity, even if he happened to be dealing with “just a disease” known as Alzheimer’s.

As I’ve been witnessing the outpouring of support and acknowledgement for nurses all over social media the past two days, I want to add my applause for nurses everywhere.  I also want to bring attention to the  extremely difficult and diverse work that nurses do in support of immunization and public health.

In the immunization world, nurses are the critical link to disease prevention. Not only are they the most common administrators of vaccines, but some studies indicate that they’re also the most effective at administering vaccinations when compared to physicians or other non-physician personnel like pharmacists. This puts them in the perfect position to also be critical in delivering important immunization messages.

“Because nurses are often the ones administering vaccines, it makes their expertise, knowledge, and advice vital in creating a safe and trusted environment for discussing childhood immunizations,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “How you communicate with parents during routine pediatric visits is critical for fostering parental confidence in the decision to vaccinate their children.”

Read more…

Why My Kid Won’t Be Getting These New Vaccines Anytime Soon

September 11, 2015 7 comments

There’s a part of me that understands why some people are hesitant to get newly approved and recommended vaccines.

“I don’t want my child to be a pharmaceutical guinea pig.”

“The vaccine hasn’t been around long enough.  How can we really know the long-term side effects?”    

“I didn’t have half the vaccines that kids today get and I survived.  Why do we bother to give so many vaccines for diseases that aren’t even all that serious?”

These are the kind of comments I’ve heard in school, at the doctor’s office, on the playground with other parents, or posted as comments on social media. While I understand that people may be hesitant, and sometimes even fearful, of something new, I tend to address my concerns by learning more about whatever it is I’m afraid of.

Since I began contributing to this blog six years ago, I’ve tried to address some of the most popular immunization concerns I’ve heard from other parents.  In sharing what I’ve learned, It is my sincere hope that others will be better able to make informed immunization decisions based on the sound scientific evidence that I include in my posts.

However, the approval of two new vaccines (HPV9 and MenB) have actually caused me much concern and distress lately.

It’s not that I’m worried about the dangers of these new vaccines.  Quite the contrary.  

I’ve sat through enough presentations at immunization conferences and committee meetings to appreciate the extensive amount of data that is collected and analyzed by hundreds of scientists and doctors as a vaccine makes it’s way through the various phases of clinical trials.

img3I’ve become familiar with the elaborate process that leads to FDA approval, and I’ve witnessed discussions by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) when they’ve considered modifications or additions to the recommended vaccine schedule.  By the time a new vaccine is ever recommended for my child, the vaccine has already been administered to thousands of people in clinical trials and the vaccine’s efficacy and potential adverse effects have already been well documented.  In fact, many vaccines, are already being used in foreign countries for years prior to being approved here in the U.S.  This provides a considerable amount of safety and efficacy data for us to analyze prior to U.S. licensure and recommendations.

With all the available data that is scrutinized by so many experts, I’m not concerned at all about the vaccine’s safety.  What I am concerned about is how long it takes for the public to finally have access to these new vaccines after FDA approval and ACIP recommendation.

In the case of these two new vaccines (HPV9 and MenB) my personal experience has been far from ideal.  It’s been at least three months since the new ACIP recommendations and yet I’m still unable to locate a single dose of either vaccine within a 50 mile radius of my home.  To make matters worse, I’m hearing reports from parents who are getting inaccurate information about the availability of these vaccines. Read more…

What Social Media Has Taught Me About Research And Vice Versa

September 4, 2015 Leave a comment
Written by Every Child By Two intern, Linn H.

As a first year Doctoral Student in the field of Public Health, I still have a long way to go before I can put my education into practice.  As I conclude my experience as a summer intern with Every Child By Two, I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned and how it will influence my work moving forward.

As my mom used to tell me,

 “It’s not what you say, but how you say it, that makes the difference.”

So far, my research has focused onfda-tobacco-8d6e8f707cc229fe health communication; how messages can shape our attitudes, perceptions, intentions and behaviors. This ranges from how public health campaigns can influence personal health choices, to how these messages are translated across social networks.

One research study I’m currently working on looks at how graphic warning labels on cigarette packages are influencing people’s decisions regarding smoking across a wide variety of populations. Because effective health communication requires the information to be tailored for a particular audience, we’re seeking to learn which types of messaging will be most effective at enhancing people’s health behaviors.

We know that how a message is framed can influence the persuasive impact and possibly encourage particular behaviors. For instance, a message can be presented as a loss or gain but the difference between these two approaches can change how people react.


As an example, in encouraging people to quit smoking, is it more effective to tell them they will gain years of life with their grandchildren, or is it more effective to explain that if they don’t quit they will get lung cancer and die? Our research attempts to determine how messages are received across different populations and situations, and under what circumstances these messages are best framed.

Putting My Research Into Practice

In my studies, I’ve been able to test the effects of such messages in a controlled laboratory setting, but I’m rarely able to study different messages in the real world setting.  As I’ve worked to support Every Child By Two in their social media endeavors this summer, I’ve been able to experience what it’s like to generate important health messages that are shared with the public instead of just academic researchers.

Unlike controlled academic research that is conducted in a lab-based setting, is peer-reviewed by your colleagues, and is structured in a scientific format, the work I’ve done this summer has provided me with a real world perspective. Read more…


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