Since I first began contributing to Shot of Prevention I’ve had many opportunities to realize that people who support immunizations are genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. Everyone from healthcare providers to public health professionals, and immunization coalition members to epidemiologists all commit themselves to educating others about the importance of timely immunizations. They also play a key role in refuting the misinformation and negative accusations that continuously cause people to question the value and safety of vaccines.
When we look at immunization education challenges, there is no doubt that some of the most prevalent misconceptions about vaccines are the result of the work of one man – Andrew Wakefield. Many people would agree that Andrew Wakefield’s “callous disregard” for scientific integrity has had ripple effects on immunization rates and disease outbreaks. Not only have his professional dealings been questionable and heavily criticized, Wakefield has also been stripped of his medical license. Yet, as an author of a book entitled Callous Disregard, Wakefield continues to promote his misguided agenda in an effort to defend himself and persuade others to question the benefits of vaccines.
Fortunately, organizations like Every Child By Two, work hard to dispel the myths that he has helped create. And fortunately, Every Child By Two has the support of many devoted immunization advocates – people like Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH. As a retired epidemiologist he has worked in the areas of preventive medicine, infectious diseases, medical outcomes research, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. After reading Callous Disregard, he felt compelled to refute each and every point that Andrew Wakefield attempted to make about vaccine safety and his article was ultimately published in a peer-reviewed online open-source medical journal.
He explains: Read more…
Vaccine advocates often wonder whether participating in discussions with those who vehemently oppose vaccines is helpful to our cause of advancing immunization education. On the one hand, we don’t want misinformation to go unchecked. But on the other hand, we can’t help but wonder whether these “debate style” conversations are effective at discrediting vaccine critics or if they inadvertently provide them with more attention than they deserve.
Unfortunately, when appearing on a television or radio interview alongside someone who is opposed to vaccinations, the very same scientific evidence that proves vaccines to be safe and effective is typically what makes our communication tasks so challenging. The scientific facts and overwhelming evidence that favors vaccinations must be articulated in a way that people can appreciate and understand. This can prove to be rather difficult based on the diversity of our audiences. Conversely, if one wants to discredit vaccines, all they have to do is allude to a few myths that help create fear and doubt which provides great strides in obstructing the message that vaccines are beneficial and save lives.
The reality is that their objective is much easier to achieve than ours. They can make things up. They can evoke irrational fear and they have become masters at playing upon our emotions. They can claim they’ve done their research, yet fail to provide one single shred of evidence. All they need to do is introduce a doubt and people begin to put parental intuition above proven science. We, on the other hand, are asking people to appreciate the science they often fail to understand, and have faith in experts who they have never heard of, nor will ever meet.
As hard as it may be to counter the elaborate myths and misinformation about vaccines, there are countless healthcare professionals, immunization experts and public health advocates who continue to work hard everyday to ensure that accurate information is available to the public. They refer people to credible sources that reference verifiable scientific findings. They inform people through books, medical publications, websites, PSAs, and in comments on vaccine related articles. They even share information on various social media platforms that alert people to the latest research findings and information about dangerous outbreaks.
While there is an abundance of immunization news that is researched, reported and read each day (which you can receive by signing up for Every Child By Two’s Daily Clips here), there is also a lot of misinformation that continues to circulate as well. Thankfully there are journalists and medical professionals who continue to combat the misinformation on television, in print publications and even on the radio.
Today we highlight an article that is especially relevant in the fight against vaccine misinformation. Dr. Vincent Iannelli has published a post on About.com Pediatrics that serves as a timeless and comprehensive guide that refutes the 40 most common vaccine myths. It is entitled Anti-Vaccine Myths and Misinformation and it provides a thorough investigation of vaccine related concerns while also including dozens of links that will allow readers to further research various aspects of immunizations.
The concerns addressed include the following:
1. Vaccines cause autism.
2. No one else is at risk if I don’t vaccinate my kids.
3. Shedding after vaccines gets people sick.
4. Most people who get sick during outbreaks are vaccinated.
5. Vaccines don’t really work.
6. Vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t really that serious.
7. Big Pharma.
8. Vaccines contain more mercury now than ever.
9. A selective or alternative immunization schedule is safer.
10. Many people don’t vaccinate their kids.
11. Vaccines are made with aborted fetal tissue.
12. Too many too soon – overloading the immune system.
13. Natural immunity is better than immunity from vaccination.
14. Vaccines are not rigorously tested before being approved by the FDA.
15. Herd immunity is not real.
16. I use PubMed to do my vaccine research.
17. 10 vaccines in the 1980s ballooned into 36 in 2008 and into 49 now.
18. Package inserts.
19. More vaccines are linked to higher infant mortality rates.
20. Most adults aren’t up to date on boosters.
21. Sick people should just stay home.
22. The media is just scaring people about measles and whooping cough.
23. You can not sue if your child is injured by a vaccine.
24. Vaccines go against some or most religions.
25. Most vaccine side effects aren’t reported by doctors.
26. Many experts are against vaccines.
27. Vaccinated kids are the cause of most outbreaks.
28. Vaccines cause shaken baby syndrome.
29. The chicken pox vaccine is creating a surge in shingles cases.
30. The U.S. gives more vaccines than other developed countries.
31. The anti-vax movement is growing.
32. Vaccines aren’t tested together.
33. I’m pro-safe vaccine. I’m not anti-vaccine.
34. It is safer to wait until your kids are older before getting them vaccinated.
35. Vaccine court has paid out billions to vaccine-injured children.
36. Vaccines are creating resistance in viruses and bacteria.
37. Unvaccinated kids are healthier than vaccinated kids.
38. People didn’t use to worry about vaccine-preventable diseases.
39. One more study.
40. The one-size fits all immunization schedule.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with this article so that you can refer to it in the future. And let us know what you think are the most effective ways to combat vaccine misinformation, both in print and broadcast media and online.
In today’s guest post Hannah, one of the student filmmakers involved in the making of the documentary Invisible Threat, explains how having an autistic brother, and conducting research for the film, influenced her understanding of vaccines.
Growing up with an autistic brother, my thoughts differed from most of my peers during the initiation of Invisible Threat. With the common concern of a correlation between autism and vaccinations, I couldn’t help but wonder the cause of my brother’s disorder. Thus, in search of a deeper understanding of vaccines and an answer regarding the cause of his hardship, I saw the opportunity to work on this film as a way to educate myself whilst pursuing my passion for filmmaking.
Going into this film, I believed that there simply had to be a connection between autism and vaccinations. I had heard stories where parents took their child into the doctor’s office and saw a nearly immediate alteration in behavior. Living with an autistic family member is no small feat and I therefore recognized the potential heartbreak of this situation. It was different for me than the student filmmakers surrounding me; autism was a disorder which affected nearly every moment of my family’s life. It wasn’t simply a “story”––it was a living, breathing, suffering, person.
Invisible Threat is a 40-minute documentary produced by California high school students which explores the science of vaccination and how misperceptions have led some parents to make dangerous decisions. In an effort to draw attention to the national launch of the Invisible Threat movement on May 1st, we are participating in a Blog Relay. Each day a different blogger will be discussing their personal perspective of the film as part of our 10-day countdown to a kick-off event with national legislators at the Capitol Visitors’ Center in Washington, DC. Visit the Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page for links to each blog post and visit the Every Child By Two website to find out how you can join us in this movement, arrange for a local screening, and continue our fight against infectious diseases.
This guest post was written by Camille Posard, the student filmmaker who wrote Invisible Threat. Camille has since graduated from Carlsbad High School, where she was involved in the making of this film and is currently a student at UCLA.
In all honesty I wasn’t very interested in making a science film about the immune system, until I personally discovered the false information that floods the internet and the subsequent firestorms created when the word “vaccine” is used. Almost three years ago an article in our tiny local newspaper mentioned our broadcast journalism club, Carlsbad High School TV (CHSTV) Films, was going to make a video clip about the immune system including how vaccines work. We hadn’t even started filming, yet the blogs prompted hundreds of ugly comments and calls. Yes, the anti-vaccine bloggers were harshly criticizing high school students doing an after school project sponsored by an unrestricted local Rotary grant.
Not knowing anything about vaccines, I thought there must be something shocking we were about to uncover about children being harmed and possible cover up. Now that was worth researching. However, the adult supervisors at CHSTV Films - the director (our broadcasting teacher) and the volunteer (PTA mom turned producer) – had a different reaction. They pulled the plug on the project, citing a concern for us teens after all the angry comments flooded in. They had no idea that this topic was so explosive. Due to the success of our previous films, we had other projects being pitched to us and the adults felt it best to avoid this headache.
It was outrageous to me that the adults would cave to the intimidation. Read more…
Written By Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Every Child By Two
The Invisible Threat film focuses on understanding the science of vaccinations and the misperceptions leading parents to delay or decline life-saving immunizations. This 40-minute independent documentary, produced by award-winning high school student filmmakers, has earned praise from more than 50 organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Every Child By Two, calling the documentary “powerful,” “fast-paced,” “well-balanced,” and “impeccably produced.”
On May 1st at 10am, Every Child By Two and the Immunization Coalition of Washington, DC will host a special event which will serve as the official nationwide launch of the Invisible Threat movement. Since it is critically important for our elected officials to get the strong message that the public expects sensible, science-driven legislation when it comes to vaccines, we’ve invited them as our special guests. Now we are counting on you (and your friends, family and colleagues) to call, or email, your members of Congress this week to further encourage their attendance at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.
By flooding their offices with calls and emails between now and May 1st we can make it clear that pro-vaccine constituents have a voice, and that we stand firm against vaccine misinformation that is resulting in weakened public health policies, watered-down school vaccination requirements and the resurgence of deadly diseases!
Please take a moment to contact the key legislators on our invitation list to ask them to attend the Invisible Threat film screening and expert panel on May 1 at 10 a.m. Let them know that this event is important to you because deadly vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, meningitis, pertussis and influenza continue to threaten your community. Explain that this student-film aims to uncover the truth about the anti-vaccination groups who seek to dismantle the progress made to combat deadly diseases that used to take the lives of millions of people each year. Make it clear that as a constituent it is very important to you that your member attend this event so that they can be better prepared to help protect your community from ongoing disease outbreaks that threaten the lives of your family.
The May 1st congressional event will begin with an airing of the film followed by Q&A panel with leading immunization experts, including:
- Amy Pisani, Executive Director, Every Child By Two
- Dr. Paul Offit, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia/Co-inventor of the Rotavirus vaccine
- Dr. Melinda Wharton, Director, Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases/CDC
- Frankie Milley, Executive Director, Meningitis Angels
- Lisa Posard, Producer, Invisible Threat
RSVPs are required as seating is limited –please inquire with firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend.
For more information on ways that you can become involved with the Invisible Threat movement click here. You can also “like” the Invisible Threat Facebook page, follow them on Twitter @InvisThreat and join the filmmakers on an Invisible Threat Twitter chat, Wednesday, April 30th, from 7-8pm, ET. Follow #InvisibleThreat and help get the word out that the threat is out there and vaccines are our greatest defense.
The following post is an adaptation of a previous article written by Shannon Des Roches Rosa for Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism entitled Keep Calm and Think Critically. Shannon is a mother of three and an autism advocate extraordinaire. She writes extensively about parenting and autism on the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and Squidalicious blogs, and serves as a contributing editor on BlogHer. Shannon critically evaluates new autism data and explains that even though a few misguided people will attempt to use this data to try to put a new spin on an old myth, it won’t change the fact that vaccines don’t cause autism.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a recent media briefing to announce and discuss readjusted estimates for autism prevalence, with a new rate of 1 in 68 children. This announcement caused instant furor in anti-vaccine autism groups, which started claiming the 30% rate increase was proof of a vaccine-autism link, despite longstanding evidence (also from the CDC, along with many other resources) that no link between autism and vaccines has ever been established by legitimate research.
I found this information-twisting especially irksome, because it reinforced to me that the anti-vaccine autism community — as few in numbers as they are — would rather endanger children’s lives than admit they’re wrong. I feel horribly guilty about the harm such misplaced fears about autism have wreaked on immunization rates. And so I work very hard as an autism parent advocate, a writer, and now a UN Foundation Shot@Life Champion to educate people about vaccine-preventable disease, and the critical importance of immunizations.
I want people to remember that vaccines save lives. To acknowledge that while Americans get to bicker about whether or not to vaccinate their children, in other parts of the world children who don’t have access to vaccines are still dying from preventable disease — one child death every 20 seconds, in fact. I want them aware that even here in the United States, unvaccinated kids, and infants too young to be vaccinated are at risk from current measles outbreaks. And it makes the job of everyone who stands on the side of children’s health and legitimate science harder when vaccine denialists light their torches and do their damnedest to spread misinformation.
But what does that new 1 in 68 estimate actually mean? Well, that takes some critical analysis, digging, and sifting, which I’ll walk you through, starting with the CDC’s Dr. Colleen Boyle’s opening statement: Read more…
Originally posted on Momentum - The Baylor College of Medicine Blog:
Today is the seventh annual World Autism Awareness Day, a day when organizations committed to autism research, advocacy, or policy promote awareness through events and public discussions.
As both a scientist and a father of four – one of whom is an adult child with autism (as well as other mental and physical disabilities) and a second who is actually doing her Ph.D. on the developmental psychology of autism – I am often asked to speak or provide public comment about the autism spectrum conditions, especially their causes.
Indeed, the fact that I lead a multidisciplinary team that develops neglected disease vaccines while also serving as President of the non-profit Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development often places me front and center in the dialogue about purported links between autism and vaccines.
For me, the issue is…
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