Every Child By Two is pleased to welcome Linn to our social media team. Linn is a student intern who will be sharing her perspectives on vaccines with us through the eyes of a PhD candidate. We hope you enjoy her first piece of the summer.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls and boys ages 11-12.
This vaccine has the potential to prevent 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.
Why then is there such a low rate of vaccine uptake?
Only about 1/3 of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated and less than 14% of boys are fully vaccinated.
One study looked to identify the barriers to uptake of HPV vaccine and found that it was not the lack of perceived risk or vaccine safety that kept parents from vaccinating their children, but the perception that it would increase risky sexual behavior in adolescents even though there is no evidence that this will occur.
As a young student, I remember learning about the HPV vaccine in high school. HPV was a sexually transmitted disease that was relatively unknown, but we learned that the vaccine would prevent certain cancers and genital warts. The knowledge that I gained about the ability for this vaccine to prevent these potential diseases prompted me to learn more about the HPV vaccine and increased my desire to receive it.
However, when I discussed it with my mother, an interesting process began to occur. She did not know any information about the HPV vaccine and when I spoke to her about the fact that it prevents a sexually transmitted disease, I could see a shift in her gaze as she narrowed her eyes. I sensed that she was hesitant because of the social stigma that surrounded a female who would get a vaccine that was related to sexual contact.
All of these opinions are related to a negative stigma around sexual behaviors that are not true. And yet these are the thoughts I sensed were running through my mother’s head as she also considered what her own peers would think, as I am sure many others do.
Back then I perceived that the assumptions that are made about females that get an STD vaccine were:
a) She is promiscuous.
b) She is about to become promiscuous.
c) She wants to be promiscuous.
At the time, I even remember having a discussion with a teacher about the HPV vaccine and her speaking about how she refused to give her child the HPV vaccine because “they should not be giving 11-12 girls a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease”. Now I understand that the 11-12 year old visit is the optimal visit, as it eliminates the connection of the vaccine with future sexual contact by integrating it within the routine vaccine schedule, which includes meningitis vaccines and a Tdap booster. In addition, I’ve learned that by waiting to provide the vaccine at a later date, many children fall through the cracks because they do not receive routine health care in their teen years. Read more…
Like many other scientists and vaccine advocates, Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH strongly believes that if parents are to decide whether or not they should vaccinate their children, than they should base their decisions on scholarly articles that represent well-grounded, solid science. However, as a retired epidemiologist, Dr. Harrison is committed to helping people make these important decisions by providing in-depth and expert analysis of articles which make false claims about the safety of vaccines.
In his fourth article in the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series, Dr. Harrison exposes Age of Autism founder, owner and chief editor, Dan Olmsted, for dangerously misinforming people. Dr. Harrison’s latest paper, Wrong About Measles, Cancer & Autism: A Review of Dan Olmsted’s Article “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism”, critiques an article by Olmsted that claims measles vaccination is tied to a higher incidence of cancer.
Olmsted wrote an article called “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism” which claimed that a recent study used a measles vaccine to treat multiple myeloma. He went on to speculate that measles may have had a preventative effect on cancer and that vaccinations led to increasing rates of cancer. He even goes as far as to claim “wild-type measles . . . performs some unsuspected function in preventing the occurrence of cancer.”
In this fourth submission to the Every Child By Two Expert Commentary series, Dr. Harrison exposes the many deficiencies in Olmsted’s article, which appears to have based on two newspaper accounts of the research. Dr. Harrison is quick to clarify that a measles vaccine was not used in the stated study. Instead, a genetically engineered measles virus strain was designed to specifically target cancer cells. Olmsted thereby fails to recognize that the measles virus had been modified and not the measles vaccine, which raises question as to whether he read and/or understood the study in the first place. What’s unsettling is that both the newspaper articles that Olmsted references in his article are clear on that detail.
It is therefore not difficult for Dr. Harrison to conclude that Olmsted starts off with an inaccurate premise about the use of a measles vaccine in treating multiple myeloma. However, even if he had been right about the use of a vaccine, he would have still been wrong about the implications he drew from it. Read more…
The 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.
When 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…