Every Child By Two’s State of the ImmUnion campaign is honoring National Immunization Awareness Month (#NIAM16) with a Blog Relay highlighting the importance of vaccines across the lifespan and across the nation.
In this guest post, we hear from Heidi Parker, MA, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada. She reminds us that promoting health and preventing disease is not just a cause to recognize during the month of August; instead, it is something we need to do each and every day.
By Heidi Parker, MA, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada
Dr. Donald A. Henderson passed away recently, with little media attention or fanfare. This is alarming, considering “saving millions of lives” was listed as one of his life accomplishments.
In case you’re wondering who he is, Dr. Henderson led the global effort to eradicate smallpox — a disease that, in the 20th century and before it was extinguished, was blamed for at least 300 million deaths. Clearly, his triumph over smallpox proved the power of vaccines.
During National Immunization Awareness Month, we are reminded that promoting health and preventing disease is not just a cause to recognize during the month of August; instead, it is something we need to do each and every day.
We must be relentless, much like Dr. Henderson was. Why? Because our news feeds continue to be filled with stories of vaccine-preventable diseases – a teen dies from meningococcal disease; a summer camp closes due to a whooping cough outbreak; college campuses battle mumps; measles spreads at music festivals; an infant too young to be vaccinated dies from pertussis; the list goes on.
In the United States, vaccines have reduced — and in some cases, eliminated — many of the diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. My great-grandfather died during the 1918 Influenza Flu Pandemic, along with millions of others; but decades later, our family is protected from this deadly virus when we get our annual flu shot. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus are now rarely seen. Countless examples like these demonstrate, day after day, vaccines are one of public health’s greatest achievements.
Unfortunately, tens of thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from vaccine-preventable diseases. 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…
Every Child By Two is pleased to launch the next 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 Don’t Sacrifice The Good For The Perfect: A Review of Cathy Jameson’s “A Strong Message About Vaccines.” which critiques a recent article by a vaccine skeptic that downplays the seriousness of measles disease and the public’s concern over the outbreak that continues to spread throughout the nation. Cathy Jameson complains that the measles vaccine is not 100% effective and implies that the vaccine industry cannot be trusted because they benefit from profits on their products. However, as Dr. Harrison states, “then one should not trust any product since everything sold is done so to make a profit.”
Dr. Harrison states in his introduction
“Though it’s unfortunate that the measles vaccine doesn’t perfectly protect everyone, it does protect most, preventing unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, disabilities, and even deaths. And, if everyone were vaccinated, then the risks to those with weaker immune systems would also be significantly reduced. In other words, Don’t Sacrifice the Good for the Perfect“
Click here to begin reading Dr. Harrison’s latest expert commentary.
After being notified that he and his family were exposed to measles, Dr. Tim Jacks signed on to the family’s online CaringBridge journal to vent his frustration. His 3 year old daughter Maggie is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia (blood cancer) and as a result has a compromised immune system. His 10 month old son Eli received all his recommended vaccines, but is too young for his first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. The children were with their mother at a Phoenix Children’s Hospital clinic when they were exposed to measles. Frustrated and concerned, Dr. Jacks wrote a journal entry as though he was speaking directly to the person who was responsible for putting his family at risk. The next day, Kid Nurse reprinted the story and Dr. Jacks and his wife were soon being interviewed by various national news outlets, to include CNN, FoxNews as seen here:
Dr. Tim Jacks, DO, FAAP is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
As an Every Child By Two Immunization Champion, he has given us permission to share his story here on Shot of Prevention, as well as on our Vaccinate Your Baby website. Every Child By Two has also invited him to present testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on The Reemergence of Vaccine-Preventable Disease: Exploring the Public Health Successes and Challenges at 10am on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.
We hope that his personal experiences will help educate Congress about the plight of those who depend on herd immunity and the importance of protecting those who are most vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases.
To the parent of the unvaccinated child who exposed my family to measles:
I have a number of strong feelings surging through my body right now. Towards my family, I am feeling extra protective like a papa bear. Towards you, unvaccinating parent, I feel anger and frustration at your choices. Read more…
As various politicians have spoken out on the issue of vaccination, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, co-founder of Every Child By Two – Carter/Bumpers Champions For Immunizations responded with this article that appeared in the Huffington Post earlier today.
Don’t Politicize Vaccinations
By Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
For more than four decades, I have joined with many others working to ensure the timely vaccination of children, and today I am saddened to see an outbreak of measles infecting more than 100 people in 14 states, many of them vulnerable infants.
Our country has achieved the highest immunization rates in history and thankfully the vast majority of parents are choosing to vaccinate their children on time. Yet, some parents today are being swayed by misinformation that has caused them to delay or decline vaccinating their children, jeopardizing the health of many others. I want all people to know that immunizations are safe, and that they work.
The current vaccine debate is being played out in the media as a partisan one, but historically, support for vaccines has been very nonpartisan. Major White House initiatives date as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who supported mass vaccination against smallpox. John F. Kennedy signed into law the first federal support program for vaccines as part of the Vaccine Assistance Act of 1962. President George H.W. Bush’s administration set a goal of 90 percent immunization rates and led efforts to create model state plans which have become an integral part of the infrastructure serving every community. The Clinton administration’s Vaccines for Children program removed cost as a barrier to eligible families.
When my husband became president in 1977, I was dismayed to learn that fewer than 20 states required vaccinations for school entry. Betty Bumpers, wife of Arkansas Governor Dale Bumpers, and I had been working for many years to increase immunization rates in our home states. We renewed our efforts in Washington by working closely with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to stop the transmission of measles, and we encouraged the passage of laws mandating vaccines for school entry. We were able to accomplish this the first year we were in Washington and now laws exist in every state. We then helped develop an improved immunization program, which included large increases in research for vaccines. Dr. Bill Foege, the head of CDC remained in that position after we came home, and continued to track the outcome of our efforts. By July 1982, only one state reported cases of measles. We celebrated the news that during one week there were no new cases of measles in the United States.
Sadly, in 1989, a measles epidemic swept the country, claiming the lives of nearly 150 people, including many young children, leading us to found our organization, Every Child By Two, whose mission it is to educate the public about the dangers of preventable diseases and the need to complete the primary vaccinations by age two.
Over the first decade, we visited every state to galvanize elected officials and public health advocates and to establish immunization coalitions that today continue to work tirelessly in their communities to keep children healthy. Most importantly, we have enjoyed bi-partisan support for our efforts at both the state and federal levels, resulting in sound public health policies that have been instrumental in reaching record high immunization levels throughout the nation.
The current measles outbreak, however, is a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of those who are not protected through immunization. And, as the debate turns toward the issue of personal rights versus public health, it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is keeping children healthy.
When our children enter a licensed daycare site or school, do they not have the right to be protected from acquiring a deadly communicable disease? I say they do. State laws requiring vaccination for school admittance are based on sound science and are there to protect our nation’s children. As these laws come under scrutiny, I urge parents to speak up in support of mandated vaccinations in schools and daycare facilities.
Opting out of vaccinations for children should be done only after careful deliberation with a licensed medical provider, and state laws should require that any parent who wishes to do so be informed of the serious consequences to their child and other children. And above all, vaccinations should not be politicized. For hundreds of years, politicians on both sides of the aisles have supported vaccinations by making real and meaningful laws to protect the public’s health. Let’s not turn children’s health into a battle ground.
Rosalynn Carter is the co-founder of Every Child By Two – Carter/Bumpers Champions for Immunization.
In response to this article, we hope that readers will sign onto Every Child by Two’s petition at Change.org, which expresses the belief that children should be protected in daycare and schools from deadly diseases!
Click here to add your name.
In the midst of the current measles outbreak, now is the time for states to take action to prevent against further outbreaks and to protect children who attend licensed daycare and schools. Do you support protecting children against vaccine-preventable diseases? Do you believe that vaccinating not only protects the individual, but also the community?
If so, sign Every Child By Two’s petition on Change.org!
Our petition calls for state governments to take two simple actions to support parents and the medical and public health communities: 1) Tighten laws for non medical exemptions to school vaccination mandates and 2) Release vaccination exemption rates for licensed daycare centers and public schools in every state.
We believe these steps will help protect children from needless illness. If you agree, sign our petition today and share it with everyone you know who cares about their children’s and community’s health! After attaining our signatory goal we hope that our partners will make use of this petition to reflects the public’s ongoing support for school vaccine mandates.
Click here to view a detailed map of school vaccine mandate exemptions permitted in your state.
There are now over 750 cases of measles in Wales with 72 cases being reported since Thursday. Unfortunately, as can be expected with measles, as many as 77 people have been hospitalized since the beginning of the outbreak and sadly, it may just be a matter of time before someone suffers serious complications and dies. Although children of all age groups are falling ill, the highest attack rate appears to be in children aged 10 to 18, many of which were not vaccinated because of concerns raised about the safety of the MMR vaccine in the late 1990s – concerns that were sparked by Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent and unethical research.
At the time, some parents made a decision not to vaccinate their children based on the Wakefield’s suggestion that the MMR vaccine (which provides immunity against measles, mumps and rubella) somehow triggered autism. However, after dozens of studies have been conducted and countless research funds have been spent, the scientific consensus is that no such link exists.
But have parents gotten the message? Has science gone back in time to recapture the attention of those who made decisions based on faulty information? Read more…