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Posts Tagged ‘MMR vaccine’

In “The Pathological Optimist” Wakefield Profits From False Hope and a Disproved Autism-MMR Hypothesis

October 23, 2017 33 comments

This guest post has been written by Every Child By Two Board Member, Dr. Paul A. Offit, who is a professor of pediatrics and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The Pathological Optimist, which had its theatrical release on September 29, 2017, is a movie about Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who claimed that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autism.

Although much has been written about this man and his discredited hypothesis, one question remains unanswered. And it’s this question that makes Andrew Wakefield such an interesting character study.

Among scientists, Andrew Wakefield is unique.  He’s not unique because his explanation for why MMR caused autism was nonsensical. (MMR vaccine doesn’t overwhelm the immune system; measles vaccine virus doesn’t damage the intestine; and brain-damaging toxins don’t then enter the body and cause autism). And he’s not unique because 17 studies performed in seven countries on three continents showed that those who received MMR weren’t at greater risk of autism. (Four thousand studies are published in the scientific and medical literature every day; not surprisingly, false claims are published all the time). He’s not unique because the Lancet, the medical journal that published his original paper, retracted it when the editor learned that Wakefield had misrepresented biological and clinical data. (Researchers who falsify data are an occasional problem in science—a human endeavor). And he’s not unique because several of the families mentioned in his paper were in the midst of suing pharmaceutical companies, essentially laundering their legal claims through a medical journal. (Conflicts of interest occasionally confound medical research). Finally, he’s not unique because his misrepresentations and falsehoods caused him to lose his medical license. (Every year some doctors lose their license to practice medicine).

No. What makes Andrew Wakefield unique is that unlike many of the discredited, defrocked, and humiliated scientists who have preceded him, he continues to insist that he is right and that the rest of the world is wrong.

The question is: Why? In The Pathological Optimist, executive producer Miranda Bailey pulls back the curtain.

Between 2011 and 2016, Bailey, who is best known for her work in Swiss Army Man, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and Norman, embedded herself in Andrew Wakefield’s life. Bailey is no novice. She’s spent a lot of time working around people who act for a living. She’s not easily fooled. And she’s not fooled here.

Throughout the movie, Andrew Wakefield’s grandiosity, his exaggerated sense of self-importance, his fantasies of brilliance, his sense of entitlement, his need for constant admiration, and his arrogance are on full display.

The Pathological Optimist follows Wakefield on what appears to be a cross-country, money-seeking tour targeting parents of children with autism. Wakefield isn’t raising money for research on autism’s causes or cures. And he isn’t raising money to promote better services or better educational tools for children with the disorder. Rather, he’s raising money for himself; specifically, to pay legal fees for his lawsuits against Brian Deer, the investigative journalist who had exposed Wakefield’s falsifications in the Lancet paper, and Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal who had called Wakefield’s paper fraudulent and challenged the Lancet to retract it.

Wakefield is out to restore his reputation. And he’s taking advantage of vulnerable parents who believe in him to do it. For Andrew Wakefield, it’s all about Andrew Wakefield.

Read more…

College Mumps Cases Here, There and Everywhere

March 18, 2016 40 comments

As a parent of a college student it concerns me to hear of so many reported mumps cases on various college campuses throughout the nation. 

In just the past week, I’ve read about cases at the following colleges:   University of San Diego (5), Harvard University (13), Boston University (3), Tufts University, The University of Massachusetts Boston, Bentley University, University of Southern Maine, Indiana University (12), Butler University (21), IUPUI (3), SUNY Buffalo, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville.  Now there are even reports of new cases in elementary, middle and high schools in Montana and cases expanding in Monroe County just outside of Indiana University.

Mumps112315While there are far fewer cases of mumps these days (1,057 cases in 2015) compared to the years before the vaccine was introduced, I can’t help but wonder what is prompting these recent outbreaks.

Mumps is typically so uncommon that just a few cases in one geographical area can constitute an outbreak.  However, these recent outbreaks seem to be occurring mostly on college campuses, but they are not isolated to one geographic region.

Are we to suspect that the behavior and living conditions among college students is contributing to the transmission of mumps among this particular age group more so than among other age groups?

After all, mumps is a contagious disease that is spread through coughing, sneezing, close contact and saliva exposure with infected people.  One such explanation offered in The Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests that

“High population density in communal living situations, such as dormitories and boarding schools, may provide increased opportunities for close contact or saliva exposures and higher dose exposures to mumps virus when introduced, resulting in easier transmission and higher rates of disease than might occur in other parts of society”.

This seems plausible, but there are likely other factors at play as well.

Could these outbreaks be the result of lower vaccine efficacy, waning immunity or a reduced herd immunity threshold? Read more…

Shot of Prevention’s Year in Review: Top Posts from 2015

December 31, 2015 4 comments

As we prepare for the challenges of 2016, we want to thank everyone for a successful 2015.  Once again, the past year has been one of tremendous growth.  We’ve seen a record number of views and shares on a variety of Shot of Prevention blog posts, and we’re especially grateful to our blog contributors and many new subscribers.

In looking back over our efforts from this past year,  we would like to share a list of some of our most popular blog posts from 2015.  We hope that you will revisit these posts and share them with others so that we can continue to engage more people in these important immunization discussions.

1. Giving MMR Vaccine Early To Protect Children Against Measles

mary_beth_koslap_petracobAs the number of measles cases tied to the Disneyland outbreak continued to rise this year, parents grew concerned about possible measles exposure in children who are not yet old enough to receive their first dose of MMR (measles, mumps rubella) vaccine. The CDC recommendation is to administer the first dose of MMR between the ages of 12-15 months.  However, this recommendation leaves children under one year of age at risk. We had many parents with young children raising their concerns on our Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page and asking if they could give the vaccine earlier than recommended. In this post, Every Child By Two Scientific Advisory Board Member, Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, DNP, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP provides some insight as to the vaccine recommendations and how parents can help to protect their young children from measles.  To learn more, read the article  here.

2. 147 Kids Died From Flu Last Year. My Scarlet Was One of Them

12336412_1734258090136116_829364839_nRebecca’s five-year old daughter Scarlet was one of the 147 children who would die from flu in the 2014-2015 season.  Prior to Scarlet’s death, Rebecca thought the flu was no big deal.  She didn’t realize that the flu could be dangerous to people of all ages; even those who are otherwise healthy.   In this post, Rebecca shares the struggles she has had in facing life without her daughter.  She also explains that while Scarlet will always be one of the many faces of the flu, her goal now is to prevent others from suffering the same tragedy that her family has.  To hear more about Rebecca’s mission to fight flu, read Scarlet’s story here

3. I’m a Pediatrician and I Gave My Daughter Pertussis

IMG_3039As a pediatrician, Rebecca Bakke MD, FAAP is often asked what she thinks about delaying vaccines, trying an alternate vaccine schedule or forgoing them all together.  In this post she shares a very personal experience in which she unknowingly infected her own daughter Claire with pertussis. The coughing started when Claire was just five weeks old and after is was confirmed that Claire had pertussis, Rebecca grew terrified.  As a pediatrician, she knew that infants with pertussis are at great risk for complications.  She also knew that antibiotic treatment for pertussis only prevents the spread of the disease, but that no medication can alter the disease course after the coughing starts.  To read Dr. Bakke’s personal account of pertussis, read the complete story here.

4. Disneyland Measles Outbreak: Should You Be Concerned?

8QgmhZV.jpgDespite the fact that measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, we saw a significant outbreak in the United States in 2015.  As the outbreak spread, 2015 saw 189 people suffer with measles in 24 states.  People began wondering, Is measles something I should be worried about?”   In order to determine whether we should be concerned, this post addressed the facts about the disease, the vaccines we use to help prevent it, and the way in which measles is spread among various communities and across the nation.  The truth is that measles presents a risk to everyone, even the vaccinated.  To learn why, read the post here.

 

5. Family’s Exposure to Measles Reveals Importance of Herd Immunity

DrJacksAndFamilyDr. Tim Jacks has a three-year-old daughter Maggie who is fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia (blood cancer) and as a result has a compromised immune system.  At the time this article was published, he also had 10 month old son Eli who had received all his recommended vaccines, but was too young for his first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. Unfortunately, Dr. Jacks’ family was exposed to measles at a Phoenix Children’s Hospital clinic.  Frustrated and concerned, he responded by writing an open letter “To the parent of the unvaccinated child who exposed my family to measles.”   As the measles outbreak continued to spread throughout the nation, he presented 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 .  To read more about his efforts to 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, check out his guest post here.

If you have suggestions for topics you would like us to address in 2016, or you would like to contribute a guest post for publication, please feel free to let us know by commenting below or emailing us at shotofprevention@gmail.com.  

If you want to ensure you don’t miss any of our new posts in 2016, simply subscribe to Shot of Prevention by clicking the link at the top right of this page.  You can also “Like” our Vaccinate Your Family Facebook page to receive updates on important immunization news and join in on group discussions.   

Thanks again for your continued support and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

 

Autism Speaks Too Late on Vaccines

February 21, 2015 16 comments

Media attention surrounding the current measles outbreak in the U.S. suggests that we may be entering a new age in regard to vaccine advocacy.  As we’ve seen measles cases climb to over 141 so far this year, parents, who once assumed their children were learning alongside vaccinated classmates, have begun to inquire about the number of unvaccinated studentsvaxnoautism1 in their schools.  Reporters, who once touted headlines that publicized celebrities making irresponsible claims that vaccines cause autism, are now interviewing renowned epidemiologists to explain the latest resurgence of measles in the U.S.  And organizations, that had once walked a fine line between blaming vaccines for autism and supporting them, are adjusting their positions in the wake of the media’s focus on public health concerns.

The actions of one organization have really caught my eye – an organization that has enormous popularity and name recognition as an autism advocacy organization.

I’m referring to Autism Speaks.  

Just like the average American vaccinates their children according to the CDC’s recommended schedule, the average American probably considers Autism Speaks one of the largest and most influential autism organization in existence.  Their popularity has provided them with great influence, and with this influence comes great responsibility – both to the autism community and to the scientific community.

But the motives of the organization are often criticized to be buried beneath their flashy public relations efforts. While Autism Speaks continues to reap the financial benefits of many generous donors, questions have been raised about their spending habits, research priorities and even their leadership tactics that seem to disenfranchise autistic individuals.  In their failure to take a clear and firm stand on the research that exonerated vaccines as a cause of autism, they have also fallen out of favor with many science-minded individuals.

Despite the fact that extensive research has refuted any link between childhood vaccination and autism, Autism Speaks has continually made statements that seemingly perpetuate this dangerous myth and leave the door ajar.  Disability Scoop recently reported that Autism Speaks has undermined the safety of vaccines by stating: Read more…

Giving MMR Vaccine Early To Protect Children Against Measles

January 27, 2015 31 comments

MeaslesAs the number of measles cases tied to the Disneyland outbreak continues to rise, parents are growing concerned about possible measles exposure in children who are not yet old enough to receive their first dose of MMR (measles, mumps rubella) vaccine.  The CDC recommendation is to administer the first dose of MMR between the ages of 12-15 months.  However, this recommendation leaves children under one year of age at risk, and so Abigail, like many other parents with young children, raised her concerns on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page by asking

Does anyone have information on giving the MMR vaccine early? My child is just 6 months old. We live in Southern California, a hotbed of the latest measles outbreak. We’re right in it…even our local grocery store was exposed. 

I’m a stay at home mom and he has no siblings, and at this point, we are not taking him to public areas often. But this outbreak is incredibly worrisome. I read that children who travel can be offered the MMR vaccine at 6 months. At what point should we consider it for our child? Any studies on early vaccination — risks, effectiveness, etc?

mary_beth_koslap_petracob

Every Child By Two Scientific Advisory Board Member, Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, DNP, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP responds to Abigail’s question as follows:

Read more…

Disneyland Measles Outbreak: Should You Be Concerned?

January 22, 2015 329 comments

8QgmhZV.jpgMeasles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but every now and then we hear about an outbreak in this country. Typically it goes something like this:

An unvaccinated American travels to some place like Europe, Asia, the Pacific, or Africa where there are 20 million measles cases a year. They are exposed to the disease, arrive back in the states and begin exhibiting symptoms. Eventually they’re diagnosed with measles and public health officials work diligently to identify and isolate subsequent cases.  Within a few weeks the outbreak is contained and people go about their business like nothing ever happened.  

So why has there been such a fuss about the recent measles cases in Disneyland?

At first, news reports identified nine cases among visitors of the Southern California amusement park in December 2014. Eight  of the patients – ranging in age from 8 months to 21 years – had been vaccinated, and two were too young to have been vaccinated.

But then the outbreak appeared to be spreading to different states and lots of new cases. The latest report from the CA Department of Public Health confirms 59 cases of measles in CA since December 2014. Of the confirmed cases, 42 have been linked to an initial exposure in Disneyland and include five Disney employees.  Patients range in age from seven months to 70 years and the vaccination status is documented for 34 of the 59 cases. Of these 34, 28 were unvaccinated, one had received one dose and five had received two or more doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.  The CDC indicates that the measles cases we’ve seen so far in 2015 span six different states, largely due to the outbreak that originated at Disneyland.  As the outbreak spreads, we’re seeing evidence of secondary infections and secondary effects.  For instance, in an effort to contain the spread of measles in Orange County schools, public health officials are requiring some parents to keep their unvaccinated children home from school for 21 days after a fellow student was diagnosed with measles as part of the outbreak.

Now many people are wondering,”Is measles something I should be worried about?” 

Most vaccinated individuals aren’t very concerned.  After all, they were vaccinated against measles as children.  Doesn’t that make them immune to measles infection for the rest of their lives? Not exactly. 

And then there are those who have chosen not to get themselves or their children vaccinated.  They’re not all that concerned either.  After all, measles isn’t all that dangerous, right?  People don’t die from measles in this country, do they?  Besides, if they eat an organic diet and avoid toxins than their immune system should easily be able to fight off a measly measles infection. Right?

In order to determine whether we should be concerned, we need to starts with the facts. The truth is that measles presents a risk to everyone, even the vaccinated, and here’s why:

Read more…

Measles in Wales Today, But Where Tomorrow?

April 17, 2013 257 comments

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…