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Efforts to Support Autism Awareness Often Derailed by Vaccine Critics

April 2, 2015 1 comment

autismdayThe fact is that I’m not autistic and I do not have an autistic child.  Therefore, I’m often reluctant to speak out on the subject of autism.  This is not because I don’t support the autism community – I most certainly do!  But because I don’t consider myself part of the inner circle of the autism community.

The way I see it, this inner circle is reserved for individuals with autism, as well as the family members, educators, therapists, researchers, and caregivers that support those living with autism.  And I would never want to presume to know what they need.  However, I listen intently to their calls for action, and hope to help them in overcoming their challenges by offering funds and support.

From my “outsider’s” point of view, autism awareness is about understanding, acceptance, inclusion, improved quality of life, and better support and resources for autistic individuals and those who assist them.  I believe every individual deserves the opportunity to lead a full, healthy and meaningful life.  But then again, who am I to define what constitutes a full, healthy and meaningful life?  When it comes to autism, I believe that research is critical in helping to understand how best to assist autistic individuals and their families, and not hinder or restrict them in any way.

vaxnoautism1When I investigate the extensive research that is being conducted on the subject of autism, it is truly awe-inspiring. There is so much we have learned, and yet, still so much to understand and discover.  Research is beginning to reveal various genetic factors that appear to contribute to autism.  We continue to learn about early interventions and successful treatments.  And we’ve spent an enormous amount of resources investigating a potential link between vaccines and autism.

To address concerns that maybe childhood vaccines were contributing to the rise in autism, multiple studies were conducted to look at children who received vaccines in comparison to those who didn’t, and in comparison to those who received them on a different or slower schedule.  There were even studies that looked into specific vaccines, such as the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR), as well as research into vaccine ingredients such as a preservative know as thimerosal.

The results of all these studies were clear and experts agree; there is no relation between vaccines and autism.  But despite the scientific evidence, suggestions that vaccines are a cause of autism continue to appear within comments on this blog, comments on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, and on countless sites all over the internet.

Today, as I perused various social media platforms on World Autism Awareness Day, I noted the ways people were “talking” about autism, and I was saddened to see that some people who are speaking on behalf of the autism community are also actively encouraging vaccine refusal.

Unfortunately, this dialogue is more hurtful than helpful.  Unvaccinated children are suffering with preventable diseases and sometimes even spreading dangerous diseases to others.   To add insult to injury, one of the most well-known autism advocacy organizations in the U.S. (Autism Speaks) continues to send mixed messages about their position on the subject of vaccines and autism.

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post that suggested that #AutismSpeaksTooLate on the subject of vaccines.

It’s no secret that Autism Speaks has continually made statements that seemingly perpetuate the idea of a vaccine/autism link. For instance, their Strategic Plan for Science, which outlines the group’s priorities for the years 2013 to 2017, also makes similar suggestions of a causal relationship by stating: Read more…

Autism Speaks Too Late on Vaccines

February 21, 2015 16 comments

Media attention surrounding the current measles outbreak in the U.S. suggests that we may be entering a new age in regard to vaccine advocacy.  As we’ve seen measles cases climb to over 141 so far this year, parents, who once assumed their children were learning alongside vaccinated classmates, have begun to inquire about the number of unvaccinated studentsvaxnoautism1 in their schools.  Reporters, who once touted headlines that publicized celebrities making irresponsible claims that vaccines cause autism, are now interviewing renowned epidemiologists to explain the latest resurgence of measles in the U.S.  And organizations, that had once walked a fine line between blaming vaccines for autism and supporting them, are adjusting their positions in the wake of the media’s focus on public health concerns.

The actions of one organization have really caught my eye – an organization that has enormous popularity and name recognition as an autism advocacy organization.

I’m referring to Autism Speaks.  

Just like the average American vaccinates their children according to the CDC’s recommended schedule, the average American probably considers Autism Speaks one of the largest and most influential autism organization in existence.  Their popularity has provided them with great influence, and with this influence comes great responsibility – both to the autism community and to the scientific community.

But the motives of the organization are often criticized to be buried beneath their flashy public relations efforts. While Autism Speaks continues to reap the financial benefits of many generous donors, questions have been raised about their spending habits, research priorities and even their leadership tactics that seem to disenfranchise autistic individuals.  In their failure to take a clear and firm stand on the research that exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism, they have also fallen out of favor with many science-minded individuals.

Despite the fact that extensive research has refuted any link between childhood vaccination and autism, Autism Speaks has continually made statements that seemingly perpetuate this dangerous myth and leave the door ajar.  Disability Scoop recently reported that Autism Speaks has undermined the safety of vaccines by stating: Read more…

Dr. Harrison Explains Why Teresa Conrick of Age of Autism is Wrong About Genetic Research and Autism

January 7, 2015 1 comment

journalsEvery Child By Two is pleased to launch the third article in their Expert Commentary series that will be permanently housed on the Every Child By Two website and referenced here on Shot of Prevention. This series features guest writer Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, a retired epidemiologist who 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, Wrong About Genetic Research & Autism: Teresa Conrick’s “Dear America, You Are Being Bamboozled” which critiques the poor scholarship and science displayed by Teresa Conrick in an article she wrote as the contributing editor to Age of Autism.

According to Dr. Harrison, Conrick’s post on Age of Autism on July 23, 2014,Dear America, You Are Being Bamboozled Again About Autism and Genes, should raise a number of red flags regarding her scholarship, basic understanding of science, common sense, and perhaps, even her ethics. Conrick’s article claims that a recent study, looking at genetics and autism, published in the journal Nature Genetics, by Gaugler et al. titled “Most Genetic Risk for Autism Resides Within Common Variation,” reflects an “onslaught of studies and articles to try and persuade [people] that AUTISM is a genetic ONLY disorder,” and that the study denies the role of any environmental or toxic exposure.

Dr. Harrison reviews the Conrick article in great depth, explaining the many deficiencies in her review of the Gaugler et al. study.  He even questions whether Conrick read the full study, or if she simply drafted her commentary off the press release that accompanied the study. In this most recent exposé by Dr. Harrison, he adeptly explains how Conrick’s contradictory statements illustrate her lack of understanding of the complex science of and relationship between environment and genetics.

Click here to begin reading Dr. Harrison’s latest expert commentary,

Wrong About Genetic Research & Autism: Teresa Conrick’s “Dear America, You Are Being Bamboozled”.

Check out Dr. Harrison’s previous articles as well, to include;

You can read Dr. Harrison’s complete bio and mission statement here:

Dr. Harrison’s Biography and Mission Statement

Be sure to subscribe to Shot of Prevention to receive future updates when Dr. Harrison publishes future articles to the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series.

Here Are the Facts From Maki Naro on The Nib: Vaccines Work

December 23, 2014 Comments off

What I appreciate most about vaccine supporters is that they love to share good content.  Before being tagged in a certain tweet last week, I was unfamiliar with The Nib which shares political cartoons and journalistic comics that are both humorous and non-fiction.  But now, thanks to Kristen Stuppy, MD, a mother and pediatrician from Overland Park, KS, I’ve been exposed to an entirely new medium and discovered that critical immunization messages are being shared in exciting and powerful ways.

According to Dr. Stuppy’s Twitter account @pediatricsk, she “wants to share reliable information about the health and welfare of kids and their families”.  And that is exactly what she has done!

But her efforts to educate others regarding immunizations on Twitter is clearly just an extension of the good work she is doing as a pediatrician.  You see, a patient’s father shared this link with her, which she, in turn, shared with me.  That tells me that she must have a very good relationship with her patients’ parents, and that her position on credible immunization information is very clear to them.

I’m always so grateful when people share good immunization content with me.  And it brings me great pleasure to be able to share that content here on Shot of Prevention.  In order to combat the endless stream of vaccine misinformation that is found on the internet today, we will need the ongoing support from doctors like Kristen Stuppy, MD, parents like the anonymous father who shared this cartoon with his child’s pediatrician, and of course, talented people like Maki Naro (@sciencecomic), the cartoonist and Popular Science blogger who created this powerful content.

I hope that you will enjoy the facts as laid out by Maki Naro who declares “Vaccines Work” by highlighting “the risks, the misinformation and the science behind history’s greatest life saver” – VACCINES!

Simply click the image below!

View story at Medium.com

Do My Children Need the HPV Vaccine?

December 17, 2014 18 comments

This guest post was written by Denise Olson,  a mother of four who connected with The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) in her efforts to learn more about the HPV vaccination.

Like all good moms, I want my kids to grow up safe and healthy. I want to make decisions that will benefit them right now, but I also need to think about things that could help them in the future. I feel like it’s a big job and a lot is depending on me. That is why I wanted to learn more about the HPV vaccine before my children were old enough to get it. I wanted to make an informed choice, and I had all kinds of questions.IMG_7492

What is HPV, anyway? Could a vaccine actually protect my children from cancer? Are there side effects? What about the scary rumors I heard on the internet? Why is the vaccine given at age 11? Are my kids really at risk for HPV, or is this unnecessary medicine?

I wrote this article to share the answers I found to my questions, and to hopefully convince other parents to think about how they can protect their own children, not only now, but in the future.

What is HPV anyway?

HPV stands for human papilloma virus.  HPV lives on soft mucous membranes and skin. Usually, it can be found on the genitals of an infected person, but it can also infect the anus, mouth and throat.

Some strains of HPV viruses cause genital warts, while others can cause tumors or cancers to grow. While there are many different types of HPV, there are several different HPV vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The bivalent HPV vaccine (Cervarix) prevents the two HPV types, 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancers. There is also a quadrivalent HPV vaccine (Gardasil) which prevents against four HPV types: HPV 16 and 18, as well as HPV 6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts. The quadrivalent vaccine has also been shown to protect against cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva and is the only HPV vaccine licensed for use in males.  And just last week, the FDA approved a new HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) which will protect against nine different strains has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers.

Can the HPV vaccine actually protect my child from cancer?

Yes! The vaccine protects against cancer IMG_6743by training the body to find and destroy viruses before they have a chance to cause the infections that lead to cancer.

The primary cancer the HPV vaccine is designed to protect against is cervical cancer, the same cancer that is checked for when women go in for a pap smear. However, because the vaccine stops dangerous HPV viruses anywhere in the body, it may help protect against some cancers of the penis, throat, mouth, and anus. This is one reason it is recommended for boys as well as for girls. (The other reason is to protect future partners from cervical cancer.) Read more…

Grassroots Fundraising Campaign Aims To Support Every Child By Two

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Written by Amy Pisani, ECBT Executive DirectorECBT Logo

Every Child By Two (ECBT) is thrilled to announce that a grassroots effort was recently launched to raise $10,000 in support of our ambitious mission to save the lives of children from vaccine-preventable diseases. Stephan N. of the We Love GMOs and Vaccines Facebook page created this Crowdrise fundraiser to help continue our critical work of sharing scientifically accurate information on the safety and necessity of life-saving vaccines with the public.

Please visit Crowdrise today to make a tax-deductible donation directly to Every Child By Two.  All donations made by December 31st will be DOUBLED by Every Child By Two Board Member Dr. Paul Offit (up to $10,000)!

Since Every Child By Two’s arrival on the social media scene back in 2008, we have been working to raise awareness of the need for timely immunizations through our Shot of Prevention blog, Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, and @ShotofPrev and @EveryChildByTwo Twitter feeds. ECBT continues to lead the way as one of the largest online sources of pro-vaccine information with nearly  seven million Facebook and Shot of Prevention blog views each year.

The successes we’ve seen are not just in the numbers of followers we have, but also in what our work has done to inspire others.  There are now dozens of pro-vaccine groups in existence throughout the world who share in our mission.   Our organization devotes a great deal of time sharing evidence-based vaccine information with our social media networks, which is used to educate individuals worldwide.  We hope that you will consider making a donation today to allow us to continue these efforts.

Beyond our social media endeavors, Every Child By Two has played an integral role over the past several decades in helping to set the standards for childhood immunization in America.  Our organization was founded by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers in 1991 as a response to a U.S. measles epidemic, which hospitalized and claimed the lives of many children.   Through nearly 25 years of service, Every Child By Two staff and cofounders have: 

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  • Visited every state in the U.S. to raise awareness about the critical importance of timely vaccinations; alert governors, mayors and community leaders about barriers to immunizations; and develop local and state immunization coalitions which continue to thrive today.
  • Helped to set and implement state and federal immunization policies that have had lasting impact on the health of our nation’s children.
  • Fought to establish the passage of laws mandating school-age vaccination requirements in nearly every state during the Carter Administration.
  • Helped implement and support the regular screening of vaccine records for the 50% of U.S. children and pregnant women served by USDA’s WIC program.
  • Served as a critical resource to local and national media reporting on vaccine-related issues, which has resulted in the proliferation of pro-science stories in both print and television.
  • Developed a number of public education campaigns including the Vaccinate Your Baby (VYB) initiative and the Immunize On Time, Every Time program.

Bus Shelter Emma

  • Educated healthcare providers and vaccine advocates about best practices and shared valuable resources for local dissemination.
  • Conducted regular briefings for federal legislators to ensure that public health policies and laws are based on sound scientific evidence and that the CDC and health departments are properly funded each year.

Every Child by Two has developed many successful strategies to ensure that every child in our nation is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases; however, there is still much to be done.  As long as a single person continues to fall victim to a vaccine-preventable disease, our work is not complete.

Visit the Every Child By Two website to learn more about our work. Please know that your donation will support our continued efforts to protect children and their families from deadly vaccine-preventable diseases.  

Dr. Harrison Explains Why Lyn Redwood of SafeMinds is Wrong About Genetic Research and Autism

November 5, 2014 210 comments

journalsEvery Child By Two is pleased to launch our new Expert Commentary Series which will be referenced here on Shot of Prevention with links to the in-depth articles that will be permanently housed on the Every Child By Two website. This series will feature 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 has been closely following what he describes as “the so-called vaccine controversy,” and is eager to volunteer his time to provide his expert analysis of a variety of articles, research papers and books in order to systematically debunk the false claims made about the safety of vaccines.

Dr. Harrison’s passionate desire to combat false vaccine information is evident in his introductory bio and mission statement:

“Outbreaks of totally unnecessary vaccine-preventable diseases have been occurring as a consequence of misinformation and disinformation from anti-vaccine advocates who don’t understand science, don’t apply critical thinking, display poor scholarship….

I decided to devote time combating the misinformation and disinformation of the anti-vaccinationist by showing the level of poor scholarship, irrational, unscientific, and sometimes even lacking common sense claims made by anti-vaccinationists. My approach is quite simple. I will use accurate direct quotes from their articles and show, using accurate direct quotes from other articles and documents, together with clear explanations of scientific method, etc. that they literally don’t know what they are talking about. Each of my articles will contain detailed footnotes, including page numbers, and references with the URL/hyperlink to any papers available on the web.”

The idea for this new Expert Commentary Series was inspired by one of Dr. Harrison’s previous articles which was printed in The Open Vaccine Journal and featured here on the Shot of Prevention blog on May 16, 2014.  This article systematically debunked the claims regarding the dangers of vaccines made by Andrew Wakefield in his book “Callous Disregard.”

Today’s submission, written exclusively for Every Child By Two, is a review of Lyn Redwood’s ArticleScience as a Means of Social Controlposted by SafeMinds on August 23, 2013.  In his article, Dr. Harrison counters a series of arguments made by Lyn Redwood regarding genetic research and autism.  Redwood’s piece echoes the sentiments of another article she located on the internet which she believed validated her instincts that “science is being used as a means of exonerating industry and/or government for culpability by blaming the individual for having the poor luck of bad genetics.”  Dr. Harrison’s critique of Redwood’s premise is both thorough and quite insightful.

We are pleased to present this article, Wrong About Genetic Research & Autism, Lyn Redwood’s “Science as a Means of Social Control” as the latest piece in our Expert Commentary Series and we look forward to future articles by Dr. Harrison.

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