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Take Action In Support of National Vaccine Program

November 12, 2013 26 comments

By Amy Pisani, Executive Director of Every Child By Two

Last week a group of activists from The Canary Party held a Congressional briefing which was intended to raise criticism of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP).  In response, Shot of Prevention posted a detailed rebuttal, written by vaccine advocate and law professor Dorit Reiss, which addressed the issues raised during the hearing.  We have since learned that Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has responded to the briefing by scheduling a full hearing to review the NVICP.  Unfortunately, since the Canary Party openly subscribes to the belief that ingredients in vaccines cause harm, there is reason to believe that this hearing may not only address concerns regarding the NVICP, but will once again question the widely refuted hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.

We have been down this road before.  Several times actually.  And the science is clear on this issue.  Vaccines don’t cause autism.  That is why vaccine advocacy organizations, like Every Child By Two and many others, are asking for your support.  We’re working to educate the committee members regarding the benefits of the current compensation program, to alert them to improvements that have already been suggested by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV), and to help suggest experts who can testify in regards to each of the concerns raised.

But the members of the committee need to hear from you as well.  Below is a summary of our collective concerns and we’re asking you to include discussion of these points in a phone call or email to the committee members for their consideration.

Some background information on the 

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP):

In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, creating the NVICP as a no-fault alternative to the tort system.   NVICP is the quickest, easiest way to ensure that those rare individuals who have been injured by a vaccine are appropriately compensated. Because petitioners do not have to prove fault but only causation, it is easier to prevail in the NVICP than it would be in civil court.   The program has paid out over $2.7 billion to 3,412 petitioners since the program’s first filings in 1989.  In order to encourage attorneys to take on these cases, the program is the only court that pays attorneys’ fees regardless of whether the petitioner is successful.  The program has paid over $162.4 million to attorneys in both successful and unsuccessful cases.

Fortunately, when the program was created a mechanism for ongoing oversight was initiated with the creation of the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV).   The ACCV consists of nine voting members (two of whom are parents of vaccine injured children) who meet regularly each year to make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues relating to the NVICP.  Every Child By Two would like to urge people to email members of the Committee in order to ensure that the NVICP remains in effect and that the focus remains on areas where the program can be improved, without digression into other matters.

Some points to include in your correspondence:

The program works. NVICP is critical to ensuring the compensation of individuals who, in rare instances, have been harmed by vaccines. Over 3,000 petitioners have been compensated over $2.7 billion since the program’s inception.  A few people, making false claims against vaccines, should not be allowed to derail the entire system.

The program advances vaccine development.  This program has saved lives by encouraging vaccine companies to develop life-saving  vaccines such as those against hepatitis, pneumococcal disease, HIB, HPV, and meningitis, to name a few.

Remedies to the current program can be facilitated through the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV).  Recommendations for improvements to the program which have been made by the commission in place, are not always acted upon, but are already detailed at the following link http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/commissionchildvaccines.html.

The science is in: Vaccines do NOT cause autism. Countless public health agencies around the world have tested and retested the theory that vaccines cause autism.  All have concluded that they do not. For a list of safety studies see our Vaccinate Your Baby website. Read more…

Flu Deaths Among Young, Healthy and Unvaccinated

October 29, 2013 4 comments

The flu is predictably unpredictable.  Each year we know it’s coming and yet people – sometimes even children - will fall ill and die.  We just can’t predict when it will arrive, how severe it will be or how many will die as a result.   Yesterday’s news, included reports of four influenza cases in Michigan and the first flu related fatality in LA County, remind us that the 2013-2014 influenza season is upon us.  As prepared as I am, this USA Today headline seemed to sum up my constant concern as a mother:  Even Healthy Kids Can Die From Flu Complications

The article highlighted details of a new report published in Pediatrics entitled Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004-2012.

Some of the most notable statistics from the report include the following:

Don’t let the dark side win. Get your children a flu vaccine each and every year!

The flu is fatal to children:  830 kids died from flu-related complications between October 2004 and September 2012.  Their median age was 7.

Healthy kids die from flu:  43% of the children who died from flu associated deaths were otherwise healthy and didn’t have high-risk medical conditions.  Children without medical conditions were more likely to die before hospital admission and 35% of pediatric deaths during this period occurred either at home or on their way to the hospital.

Vaccination is your best preventive measure:  Most flu associated deaths occurred among children who were NOT vaccinated.

Some people are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu:  Older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), as well as those who live in facilities such as nursing homes, should be especially vigilant against the flu since they are at greater risk of complications.  However, it is interesting to note that the risk of influenza associated hospitalization in young children is similar to the risk known for older adults.  Something that many parents fail to realize.

In light of this report and other flu related data from last season, I’m relieved that my children have already been vaccinated.  When I schedule their appointments each year I’m reminded of the following:  

We know and love plenty of people whose health is fragile, such as newborn babies, pregnant women and those undergoing cancer treatment.  Last year my daughter’s 13-year-old friend, and trick-or-treat companion, was undergoing cancer treatment.  This year my father in law is battling cancer.  And we’ll be seeing several family members who are either pregnant or have young children over the upcoming holidays.  Then there’s my 90-year-old aunt.  She may not have any underlying health conditions, but a bout of the flu could certainly land her in the hospital.  By getting ourselves vaccinated we are also helping to protect other vulnerable members of our communities from falling ill with the flu. 

We’ve also witnessed the severity and unpredictability of the flu over the years.  My husband’s co-worker, a healthy young man in his early 30′s, succumbed to the flu years ago.  My own daughter was a victim of H1N1 during that pandemic year.  My best friend’s son was hospitalized two times with influenza.  And how could I forget the personal stories from Families Fighting Flu and Shot by Shot of children lost to influenza.  As parents, we vaccinate our children to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to protect them from a dangerous illness that could possibly result in death.

If you haven’t had your family vaccinated this year, there’s still time.  Simply use this flu vaccine finder to help locate a vaccine center near you.  http://flushot.healthmap.org

And if you’re already preparing to explain why you won’t get yourself or your family vaccinated, than I have just one request.  Check out Tara Haelle’s grand effort to “set the record straight” with her thorough take down of almost every flu vaccine myth ever heard.  As a science writer, Tara’s colossal post lists 25 flu vaccine myths and then literally attacks each of them in detail.  With a grand total of 109 links, more than half of which link directly to peer-reviewed studies in medical research, your bound to find the scientific response to anything you’ve ever wanted to know about influenza vaccine.

To find out more about why flu vaccination matters, listen to a few personal stories compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New Evidence of Risk from Delaying Vaccines

October 15, 2013 131 comments

Statistics show that by age two, one in eight children were undervaccinated at some point in time due to parental decisions to delay or refuse certain vaccines.  Despite the evidence that the infant immunization schedule is safe and well-tested, some parents remain concerned that their child may be receiving too many vaccines at once, or too many at such a young age.  “Their bodies are too small to handle it?” they say.

But what if research discovered that a child was better able to handle certain vaccines when they were younger, as opposed to when they got older?  What if delaying vaccines actually put children at a greater risk of suffering an adverse reaction to the vaccine? 

By taking a closer look at the vaccine safety surveillance data of 850,000 children, 12-23 months of age, that is essentially what researchers have discovered.  A recent study, published online in JAMA Pediatrics yesterday, found that the risk of fever and seizure after receipt of measles containing vaccines significantly increased in 16-23 month old children, as compared to 12-16 month old children.  Not only does this research suggest that delaying vaccination is not necessarily a safer choice, it also suggests that a more robust immune response in older children, versus younger children, may result in a higher risk of fever and a lower threshold for seizure.

According to a detailed editorial written by Dr. Kristen A. Feemster and Dr. Paul Offit in response to this research, “vaccines are recommended at certain ages and intervals to optimize the immune response, ensure protection when a child is most at risk for disease acquisition, and minimize adverse events.”  The editorial goes on to explain that this type of research reinforces the well-established safety and timing of the current schedule, while also providing an example of how vaccine safety surveillance methods can be used to identify outcomes associated with alternative vaccine schedules. Read more…

Acts of Violence Interfere with Polio Eradication

October 8, 2013 8 comments

Today I’ll be picking my children up from school and driving them to the local health department where we will receive our seasonal influenza vaccines.   Within minutes, I expect we’ll be vaccinated and on our way home.  And all the while, I’ll consider myself and my children extremely fortunate to live in America.

rotaryNot only will our vaccine help protect us from the dangers of the flu this season, but previous vaccines keep me from worrying about many preventable diseases, such as polio.  Unlike many parents in foreign nations, I won’t have to walk for hours, carrying my children in my arms, hoping that by the time I make it to the vaccination clinic there will be someone there to administer the vaccine.  And I certainly won’t fear for our safety any time before, during or after the appointment.

And while I’ve been reading personal stories of polio survivors on the Rotary Voices blog this month, in preparation for World Polio Day on October 24th, yesterday’s headlines were a grim reminder of just how much American parents take for granted.

The New York Times reported,

“At least two police officers were killed and a dozen people wounded on Monday when a bomb went off near a health care facility where polio vaccines were being dispensed outside this northwestern Pakistani city.”

While not the bombs of a typical war, these bombs were certainly a violent way to intimidate people and deter vaccination in a country where polio is not yet eradicated.  And this is not the first time that polio vaccination workers, and their efforts to eradicate polio have been targeted.  The anti-vaccine sentiment in Pakistan is not only being fought with bombs and guns, but with rumors and lies.  While extreme religious leaders have suggested that the vaccines are intended to make Muslims infertile, others have accused polio workers of using vaccination campaigns as a cover to spy on behalf of the United States. Read more…

News of a Texas Measles Outbreak Shows Problems and Promise

September 3, 2013 29 comments

It’s never good news when we hear of people in this country suffering from vaccine preventable diseases like measles.  Especially since endemic measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.  But what is promising is that the mainstream media coverage of the recent measles outbreak in Texas has clearly come out on the side of science.

TXchurchEarlier this month a measles outbreak occurred when an unvaccinated individual, who contracted measles while traveling overseas, returned to the U.S and attended church services at the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.  This person unknowingly exposed thousands of others to the disease, including infants in the church’s daycare facility that were too young to have been vaccinated, and who must rely on the protection of those around them.

The Texas outbreak was one of many throughout the country in the past few months.  There were plenty of other measles outbreakspertussis outbreaks and even chickenpox outbreaks that hardly garnered any attention.  And if the pastors of this church hadn’t been actively promoting prayer as a substitute for vaccination, this story of a Texas measles outbreak may have never had the appeal of mainstream media.

TerriPearsonsHowever, it was reported that senior pastor, Terri Copeland Pearsons, voiced her concerns about vaccinations on the church’s website,

“Some people think I am against immunizations, but that is not true. …The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have a family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time.”

Not only does her statement contradict the scientific evidence that has shown multiple vaccinations and combination immunizations to be safe, but numerous studies have also completely debunked her accusation that vaccines are tied to autism.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only spiritual leader within the church who was heard peddling inaccurate science.  Read more…

Why Some Parents Are Refusing HPV Vaccine For Their Children

August 20, 2013 603 comments

This post is not the result of an official survey. Rather, it’s a collection of the most common explanations I’ve heard parents make when refusing HPV vaccine for their children, followed by points to consider.

REASON #1: My child is not/ will not/ should not be having sexual relations. So why would they need an HPV vaccine?

As a mother to five daughters I get it. Every parent wants to believe that their son or daughter will remain abstinent until marriage. And some may. But the reality is that some children, even as young as 12 and 13, are already involved in sexual relations and this reality is what has influenced the age at which the HPV vaccine is recommended.  Here is what the studies suggest:

The HPV vaccine is most effective when the complete three shot series is given long before any sexual activity begins, which is one reason the vaccine is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12. Additionally, the vaccine illicits a greater immune response and produces higher antibody to fight infection when given at this age, compared to receiving the vaccine at a later age.

Regardless of the when a child becomes sexually active, the HPV vaccine is important because the prevalence of HPV infection is staggering:

Some parents may be surprised to learn that sexual intercourse is not necessary for infection.  Oral-genital and hand-genital transmission of some genital HPV types is possible and has been reported.  Studies show that HPV was detected in 46% of females prior to first vaginal sex.  Based on this information, it’s possible that a person can become infected during their first sexual encounter. Even if someone remains abstinent until marriage, there’s no guarantee that the person they are marrying isn’t already infected.

Yet, some parents remain concerned that vaccinating a child for a sexually transmitted disease is like giving them permission to have sex. However, research indicates that HPV vaccination has had no notable difference in the markers of sexual activity, to include pregnancies, counseling on contraceptives, and testing and diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections. In other words, the vaccine does not appear to be changing sexual behaviors, only protecting those when they eventually engage in them.

The way I see it, most children by the age of 11 can understand that the HPV vaccine can protect them from various types of cancers, but not from pregnancy and STDs. It’s a simple matter of communication by which the parents can explain that the vaccine doesn’t equate to a free pass to have sex.  If a child chooses to refrain from sexual relations, I would venture to guess that it has more to do with their upbringing and strong moral character, than whether or not their parents choose to protect them with the HPV vaccine.

REASON #2: Won’t regular PAP smears detect any abnormalities and identify cervical cancer without the need for the vaccine? Read more…

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