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Medical Community Response to Irresponsible Media

It’s encouraging to see what can be accomplished when we insist on accurate vaccination messages.   

Earlier this week, a concerned parent who frequently comments on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page, alerted us to an article on The Discovery Channel’s TLC site entitled “5 Things to Consider When Deciding to Vaccinate Your Child”.  Unfortunately, the article contained numerous inaccuracies and ignored a great deal of scientific evidence regarding vaccines.   Since the average parent is not especially well-versed on this issue, the concern was that this type of reporting could misled readers into forming negative opinions of vaccines based on false information.  Every Child By Two shared their concern with various health related organizations and their consensus was that something needed to be done to correct the false information and ensure parents received scientifically accurate evidence about vaccines.  The AAP offered to draft a letter of concern and multiple organizations signed on in support.

The letter that they delivered to The Discovery Channel last night read as follows:  

One of the most important decisions parents make to ensure their children’s health is the decision to vaccinate them against potentially deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases. To do so, parents need accurate, complete information about immunizations – which they often look for online. So we were astounded when we found an article on a Discovery Company website that perpetuates dangerous myths and untruths about vaccines. We cannot understand how a company that celebrates the latest in scientific achievements would feature an article so inaccurate and wholly biased against science.

The article, “5 Things to Consider When Deciding to Vaccinate Your Child” by Josh Clark begins with the claim that medical science has already “conquered” diseases like polio and pertussis, or whooping cough. Polio is still endemic in parts of the world, and pertussis is killing infants here in the United States. Several states have declared epidemics of pertussis this year. Measles, too, is making a comeback, with more cases in the U.S. in 2011 than in 15 years. These diseases pose real threats to children who are unprotected by vaccines.

As with all medications, vaccines do carry some risks, most commonly fever and pain at the injection site. These risks are tiny compared to vaccines’ benefits. But instead of an honest discussion of the facts, Josh Clark perpetuates false and misleading notions. A few errors were corrected in the second version of the article posted May 16, but we cannot understand how they ever made it through your review process. It would have been easy, for example, to learn that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella does not and never did contain thimerosal, and thimerosal has been removed as a preservative from all other childhood vaccines in the United States, except for some influenza vaccines.

The fallacies don’t stop there. Vaccines contain killed or weakened versions of viruses and bacteria; you cannot “catch” the disease from the vaccine. Josh Clark also resurrects the issue of vaccines and autism, which the scientific and medical communities have thoroughly debunked, and he suggests the only reason parents may want to vaccinate their children before they head to school is that it’s “easier” than filling out the paperwork for an exemption.

Finally, his suggestion that parents delay immunizations is terribly misguided. The vaccine schedule is scientifically designed to protect children when they are most vulnerable to specific infectious diseases. Waiting until school age to vaccinate would leave infants and toddlers exposed to the very diseases that can kill them.

It is clear to us that the Discovery Company has dropped the ball in its vetting process for articles. The members of our societies work hard to protect the health and lives of children, and we believe this erroneous information does a true disservice to families and children. If your organization is presenting information on health to the public, we ask that you do a better job ensuring it is accurate. Our children’s lives depend on it.

We call on the Discovery Company to produce a complete and factual presentation on the importance of immunizations. For accurate information on vaccines, we encourage you to visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines and the websites of our organizations.

American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/vaccines.html

American Academy of Pediatrics www2.aap.org/immunization and www.healthychildren.org

American Academy of Physician Assistants www.aapa.org

Autism Science Foundation http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/autismandvaccines.html

Every Child By Two http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases www.nfid.org

National Meningitis Association www.nmaus.org

Oregon Pediatric Society

Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases www.pkids.org

Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia http://vaccine.chop.edu

 As the AAP worked to draft this letter, Ken Reibel, a concerned science blogger who often writes about immunizations on his Autism News Beat blog, went to work contacting the author and The Discovery Channel directly by phone.  He alerted them to the attention they would soon be getting from the medical and science community, and he suggested that they seek the counsel of an expert when covering such an important topic in the future.

Fortunately, these combined efforts resulted in the removal of the article and the author’s realization that vaccine articles require appropriate research.  This exemplifies how powerful our voices can be when parent advocates, public health organizations, medical establishments and determined journalists all collaborate for the good of immunization education.  If we are to ensure that vaccine messages remain scientifically accurate, than we must continue to speak out against irresponsible rhetoric, no matter what medium in appears in. This is not the first time that these organizations have had to make a call for the media to act responsibly in their immunization coverage, and it certainly won’t be the last.  But each and every time these fallacies are restricted from public view – or more importantly accurate information is shared with parents – is one giant step in the battle against vaccine misinformation. 

  1. Lara Lohne
    May 18, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    There was another article this week in the Chicago Sun Times where they interviewed Jenny McCarthy regarding autism and her organizations. While it was more related to autism then vaccines, I’m sure we are all well aware of where this woman stands on the vaccine – autism (non) issue. There is a petition currently collecting signatures of concerned parents to present to the Sun Times which will hopefully alert them to the dangers of Ms. McCarthy’s message. I can present a link to the petition if anyone would like to sign it. Let me know.

    Like

  2. May 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Excellent news and great work by Ken Reibel! Seth Mnookin also took them to task. And I have a feeling…just a hunch…that TLC/Discovery were bombarded with messages from people who were angered by such a terribly-written and frankly incorrect article.

    Like

  3. May 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    This article contains the incorrect usage of the word entitled.

    Like

  4. Kelly
    May 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    It is so encouraging to hear about speaking out against misinformation having such a positive outcome.

    Parents deserve accurate information to make an informed choice for their children. I post frequently on this blog because I believe in informed choice so strongly. We may not be able to prevent parents from making a poor choice, but at least we can say we didn’t sit back and let them make that choice on misinformation.

    Like

  5. Th1Th2
    May 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Kelly :
    It is so encouraging to hear about speaking out against misinformation having such a positive outcome.
    Parents deserve accurate information to make an informed choice for their children. I post frequently on this blog because I believe in informed choice so strongly. We may not be able to prevent parents from making a poor choice, but at least we can say we didn’t sit back and let them make that choice on misinformation.

    Between an unvaccinated child and a child vaccinated with VZV, who do you think is at risk of developing shingles?

    Let me guess, it will take another three days or more before a pro-vax would come up with an answer. Geez.

    Like

  6. Lawrence
    May 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    LOL – please ignore the one trick “insane troll” pony…..

    Like

  7. Snoozie
    May 18, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Excellent work, Shot of Prevention and Ken Reibel!

    Like

  8. Th1Th2
    May 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Why is this site so slowwww today in “correcting false information” and “fallacies” regarding vaccines?

    “Our children’s lives [with shingles] depend on it.” I see.

    Like

  9. JohnFryer
    May 19, 2012 at 5:34 am

    How much thimerosal is actually used today compared to the time when it was in most vaccines?

    Like

  10. JohnFryer
    May 19, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Autism may not be vaccine related but cot deaths often came and still come after maybe just one round of a vaccine. Death to Harry Clark six hours after his very first vaccine at age 8 weeks. He was examined as completely fit before.

    Today in Asia we see a rise in infants with eyesight deficiency at a level never seen before. The supposed explanation is based on no science at all except to blame the person affected.

    Thimerosal is known to attack and destroy nerve cells which of course also means optic nerves. Thimerosal is in their vaccines to my knowledge today.

    Vaccines are a great invention but protection is not complete, not permanent and unless as for smallpox is eliminated it causes an ever increasing need for vaccines which today are often very expensive meaning that in turn we have permanent pools of the illness.

    Smallpox eliminated in 1977 is now almost ancient history with worse illnesses beyond the ability of modern science eg AIDS.

    If infants are so resistant to harm from vaccines why do some cry until fatigued? Often presenting with blown up heads which can be measured with a metre tape!

    Like

  11. Chris
    May 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm096228.htm#t1

    Every single pediatric vaccine is available in a thimerosal free version.

    Like

  12. Chris
    May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Citation needed for everything. You have been told over and over and over again that just making stuff up and posting in a comment does not make it true.

    Like

  13. Th1Th2
    May 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I just dropped in to see whether someone from the pro-vax has answered #5. And I am glad they didn’t disappoint.

    This exemplifies how powerful our voices can be

    Indeed.

    Like

  14. Reesa
    May 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Only two days, as luck would have it, Th1Th2.

    The VZV vaccine to prevent shingles (varicella zoster) is the same vaccine used to prevent chickenpox…just stronger. The chickenpox vaccine activates the primary immune response to prevent the disease. The shingles vaccine stimulates the secondary immunity to prevent reactivation of the dormant virus hiding in the dermatomes. The chickenpox vaccine does not have the ability to replicate as the wildtype virus does, so there is no reactivation later in life.

    So…if a child gets the chickenpox vaccine, they have protection against the chickenpox, AND no latent virus hiding out that could reactivate and cause shingles later. That’s prevention against two diseases, both of which are miserable at best, and deadly at worst.

    Only the child who is is exposed to and develops chickenpox is at risk for shingles later.

    Like

  15. Th1Th2
    May 20, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Reesa :

    The VZV vaccine to prevent shingles (varicella zoster) is the same vaccine used to prevent chickenpox…just stronger.

    Only people who have had primary varicella infection can qualify for shingles. So how many naive children have you recruited thru VZV inoculation?

    Before zoster can develop, a primary infection with either wild-type or vaccine-type varicella–zoster virus must occur.

    The chickenpox vaccine activates the primary immune response to prevent the disease.

    Of course when you’re inoculating the naive with VZV, you’re not really preventing the chicken pox, well duh, but promoting primary varicella infection. Are we clear on that infection promoter?

    The shingles vaccine stimulates the secondary immunity to prevent reactivation of the dormant virus hiding in the dermatomes.

    Had you not inoculated the naive with VZV, would there be a “dormant virus hiding in the dermatomes”?

    And this one is a gem….

    The chickenpox vaccine does not have the ability to replicate as the wildtype virus does, so there is no reactivation later in life.

    So where were you when Moms Who Vax Are Speaking Out?

    And the rest is just a vicious cycle of ignorance and stupidity.

    So…if a child gets the chickenpox vaccine, they have protection against the chickenpox, AND no latent virus hiding out that could reactivate and cause shingles later. That’s prevention against two diseases, both of which are miserable at best, and deadly at worst.
    Only the child who is is exposed to and develops chickenpox is at risk for shingles later.

    Only two days, as luck would have it, Th1Th2.

    No rush. Next time, use your time wisely.

    So who’s going to be the next martyr?

    Like

  16. Th1Th2
    May 20, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Reesa :

    The VZV vaccine to prevent shingles (varicella zoster) is the same vaccine used to prevent chickenpox…just stronger.

    Only people who have had primary varicella infection can qualify for shingles. So how many naive children have you recruited thru VZV inoculation?

    Before zoster can develop, a primary infection with either wild-type or vaccine-type varicella–zoster virus must occur.

    The chickenpox vaccine activates the primary immune response to prevent the disease.

    Of course when you’re inoculating the naive with VZV, you’re not really preventing the chicken pox, well duh, but promoting primary varicella infection. Are we clear on that infection promoter?

    The shingles vaccine stimulates the secondary immunity to prevent reactivation of the dormant virus hiding in the dermatomes.

    Had you not inoculated the naive with VZV, would there be a “dormant virus hiding in the dermatomes”?

    And this one is a gem….

    The chickenpox vaccine does not have the ability to replicate as the wildtype virus does, so there is no reactivation later in life.

    So where were you when Moms Who Vax Are Speaking Out?

    And the rest is just a vicious cycle of ignorance and stupidity.

    So…if a child gets the chickenpox vaccine, they have protection against the chickenpox, AND no latent virus hiding out that could reactivate and cause shingles later. That’s prevention against two diseases, both of which are miserable at best, and deadly at worst.
    Only the child who is is exposed to and develops chickenpox is at risk for shingles later.

    Only two days, as luck would have it, Th1Th2.

    No rush. Next time, use your time wisely.

    So who’s going to be the next martyr?

    (sorry for the repost)

    Like

  17. Th1Th2
    May 20, 2012 at 2:04 am
  18. Nathan
    May 20, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Um… Can’t all heads be measured with a metre tape?

    Like

  19. Reesa
    May 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Wow. I’m in awe.

    You really don’t need me to argue with, Th1Th2. You do it all! You added statements and attributed them to me, then argued against them…then you went straight to sarcasm and moral superiority and declared yourself victorious.

    Thanks for the suggestion to use my time wisely in the future. I believe I’ll do just that.

    Like

  20. Th1Th2
    May 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

    I quoted every single comment you posted and argued against them so don’t give me that stupid excuse.

    Is there a statement in there that isn’t yours? Confuse about hyperlinks?

    Like

  21. Lawrence
    May 20, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Ignore “one-trick insane troll.”

    Like

  22. Th1Th2
    May 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Shows the total lack of confidence in your debating skills, even during the SBM and RI days. How goes it infection promoter?

    It won’t be long before the herd will soon show its distrust to this site (see what happened to SBM and RI, laying low on vaccine topics) once they come to realize that they are being lied, deliberately misled and deceived by these infection promoters.

    People can read, investigate and learn from their mistakes. I don’t know about the sheep.

    Like

  23. Lawrence
    May 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    There is no point in debating someone who doesn’t live on the same planet or the same reality as the rest of us,

    Like

  24. Th1Th2
    May 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Lawrence :
    There is no point in debating someone who doesn’t live on the same planet or the same reality as the rest of us,

    That’s a typical sheep behaviour.

    Like

  25. lilady
    May 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Here, are pictures from the Immunize.org website of infants who contracted varicella. (Not for the faint-hearted):

    http://www.immunize.org/photos/chickenpox-photos2.asp

    Note the pictures of bullous varicella lesions and hemorrhagic varicella lesions on babies who are too young to have been immunized against the virus.

    Please ignore delusional troll. It hates children. It has already been banned from other websites…including a website which is notoriously tolerant of “alternative” non-scientific germ theories and other pseudoscience viewpoints.

    Like

  26. Polly Palumbo, PhD
  27. ella
    May 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    John,
    Good, thoughtful comment, but this isn’t the right place to point out any of the many dangers of vaccines. I liked it, though.

    Like

  28. liz allen
    May 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Nathan,
    Could you tell me how Chris’ son is after his heart surgery? I have been thinking about them and hoping that it was successful and he is doing well. Thanks!

    Like

  29. June 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    “Shots of Alledged Prevention” are correlated to higher infant mortality rates in the US, compared to Western countries and even communist Cuba!

    Sept 2011 – Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses routinely given: Is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170075/

    Source: Human & Experimental Toxicology

    “…The US childhood immunization schedule requires 26 vaccine doses for infants aged less than 1 year, the most in the world, yet 33 nations have better IMRs. Using linear regression, the immunization schedules of these 34 nations were examined and a correlation coefficient of 0.70 (p < 0.0001) was found between IMRs and the number of vaccine doses routinely given to infants….”

    Like

  30. Kelly
    June 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This paper is of extremely poor quality. A critique is offered here: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/16/vaccines-and-infant-mortality-rates/

    Like

  31. Chris
    June 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Why would Nathan have that information?

    Like

  32. June 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    There’s always a critique, for sure, that’s what pharma pays for. The bottom line remains the vaccine cult is based on uncontrolled studies and surrogate parameters insted of the scientific method as they should be.

    You don’t have to dig much to show the fraud, it’s all over the place…

    —Vaccination status and sequence of vaccinations as risk factors for hospitalisation among outpatients in a high mortality country.

    “… CONCLUSION: Fllowing the recommended vaccination schedule for BCG and MV is associated with a reduced risk of hospitalisation but this is not the case for DTP and booster DTP. Receiving DTP simultaneously with MV or after MV is associated with increased risk of hospitalisation. Vaccines have sex-differential effects on the risk of hospitalisation.–”

    Result of this “shot of prevention”: grave illness, hospitalization and long-term sequels you can only guess.

    Like

  33. lilady
    June 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    “… CONCLUSION: Fllowing the recommended vaccination schedule for BCG and MV is associated with a reduced risk of hospitalisation but this is not the case for DTP and booster DTP. Receiving DTP simultaneously with MV or after MV is associated with increased risk of hospitalisation. Vaccines have sex-differential effects on the risk of hospitalisation.–”

    Would that be a “cherry-picked” quote from this study?

    http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/3/e000707.full.pdf

    I just love (sarcasm), your conclusions…

    “Result of this “shot of prevention”: grave illness, hospitalization and long-term sequels you can only guess.”

    Try to read the 26 page study for yourself, including the voluminous charts and the footnoted studies as well as the complete conclusion…and the recommendations of the authors for further studies to perhaps prove the hypotheses advanced by them.

    Like

  34. Kelly
    June 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Oh boy, putinreloaded, cherry-picking is not considered an intellectually honest activity. If your position is so strong, why do you have to lie?

    Here is a link to the paper you quoted: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21440640

    By just quoting the conclusion, you give the impression that vaccination lead to hospitalization. This isn’t what the paper is about at all. The children were hospitalized for reasons unrelated to vaccines. Their vaccination status was just recorded at the time of hospitalization.

    Like

  35. ella
    July 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Shingles can be caused by the varicella vaccine as well as by the natural disease: Dr. Dennis Klinman of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research found that shingles can follow the varicella vaccine. See also Plotkin, S. “Hell’s fire and varicella-vaccine safety.”New England Journal of Medicine 1988; 318:573-75. Kohl, S., et al. “Natural varicella-zoster virus reactivation shortly after varicella immunization in a child.”Pediatric Infectious Disease J 1999; 18: 1112-13.
    See also Goldman, G. “Chickenpox vaccine; a cycle of disease. Appendix 3: Clinical descriptions of five different serious adverse effects that followed varicella vaccination.”Nexus New Times Magazine (July-August 2007) And MedAlerts:org:
    A 15-month old baby received the chickenpox vaccine and three months later developed painful, blistering lesions on his right shoulder, arm, and hand. He also had a patch of blisters on the right center of his back. The child was diagnosed with shingles by his doctor.
    A 2-year old boy received the chickenpox vaccine. At the age of 5 years, he had a painful shingles eruption on the back of his neck that lasted for 45 days. Nine months later, he had another outbreak of shingles on his left nipple and left side of his back. The pain was severe and the rash left scars. Two months later, he had yet another shingles outbreak.
    A 4-year old girl received the chickenpox vaccine and 5 months later developed painful grouped vesicles that extended down the back of her arm. The child was diagnosed with shingles by her pediatrician.

    Chickenpox is usually a harmless childhood disease and complications are rare. It usually confers permanent immunity. Shingles may later occur in adulthood, but shingles may occur after the vaccination as well, an at a younger age. Complications occur mostly in adults who get chickenpox or in children with weak immune systems from cancer or AIDS.

    A study by the CDC and FDA and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Wise, R.P.”Postlicensure safety surveillance for varicella vaccine.” Sept 13, 2000. 1271-79. found that adverse reactions occurred at a rate of 67.5 per 100,000 doses sold. Children under 4 had seriouis reactions (hospitalization, disability, or death) at a rate of 6.3 percent. Those under 2 9.2%. Babies under one vaccinated by mistake (?) had serious reactions at a rate of 9.2%.

    Parents must weigh these facts before allowing their child to get the Varivax.

    Like

  36. Chris
    July 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Except they should know that Mr. Goldman is a computer scientist. And his PhD is from a non-accredited institution. Why should we care what he says?

    Like

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