My grandmother's longtime partner Rusty was a former weightlifter with the sunniest, most reslient disposition of anyone I've known, and the only time I ever saw him reduced to tears was from the pain of a bout of shingles; now a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix has proven almost miraculously effective against the virus (which nearly every person who lives to 80 will suffer from) with a notable lack of downsides. If you're over 50, you should go get it right now. (via Naked Capitalism)
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There are no good reasons, and a lot of bad ones, that your dog can be vaccinated for Lyme disease but you can not. Profiteering and vaccination fears have teamed up to leave humans defenseless from a terrible malady.
WBUR shares the story:
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For Dr. Stanley Plotkin, a prominent vaccine scientist, Lyme disease is personal. His son, Alec, collapsed from a slow heart rate when he was 39, brought down by a rare heart complication from Lyme.
His son survived, but the incident helped cement Plotkin's resolve to pursue a human vaccine against Lyme disease. Using his bully pulpit as an emeritus professor of infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania, he’s taken his case from The New York Times to the New England Journal of Medicine, in which he called the lack of Lyme protection "the worst recent failure to use an effective vaccine."
That’s because we used to have a vaccine for Lyme, called LYMErix, but it was pulled from the market. Now, the only family member who can get a Lyme vaccine is your dog.
LYMErix had some problems. It required three doses at $50 each, and they were not covered by insurance -- so involved some inconvenience and out-of-pocket money. Despite a good safety record in clinical trials, some people experienced what they thought were side effects and sued SmithKline Beecham, the manufacturer. In 2002, SmithKline pulled the vaccine, after only four years on the market. (More on the history of the Lyme vaccine here.)
While the official line is that poor sales led the vaccine's maker to pull it, most experts think the specter of lawsuits was a key factor.
From YouTube description for this Bozeman Science video: "In this video Paul Andersen explains how immune individuals in a population give the entire group a herd immunity. Concepts of immunity, vaccines, basic reproduction number, and herd immunity threshold are discussed." Read the rest
Yet another opinion piece, this one in the New York Times, detailing how incredibly cavalier folks who decline to vaccinate their children are.
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It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America.
Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.
The myth that vaccines like the one that prevents measles are connected to autism has persisted despite rock-solid proof to the contrary. Donald Trump has given credence to such views in tweets and during a Republican debate, but as president he has said nothing to support vaccination opponents, so there is reason to hope that his views are changing.
However, a leading proponent of the link between vaccines and autism said he recently met with the president to discuss the creation of a presidential commission to investigate vaccine safety.
Scientific American summarized five of Donald Trump's "major moves many see as hostile toward science." They are:
• Trump’s pick for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actively battled its mission
"To lead the EPA, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has long opposed environmental regulations and has questioned the science behind climate change."
• He chose former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Secretary
"It is a science-heavy department, and one that (climate change skeptic) Perry—who is not a scientist—had advocated dismantling during his 2012 presidential bid."
• He chose an energy company executive for secretary of State
"Trump tapped former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State."
• He met with a vaccine critic while planning a commission on autism
"(Robert Kennedy, Jr) has repeatedly promoted discredited arguments that link vaccines to autism."
• His transition team sought information about Energy Department staff associated with climate change
"In December Trump’s team asked the DoE for the names of employees who have worked on issues related to climate change."
"Trump's 5 Most 'Anti-Science” Moves (Scientific American) Read the rest
Donald Trump has a long history of promulgating anti-vaccine conspiracy theories (contrary to received wisdom, the anti-vaxx movement draws most of its support from the political right, not hippie liberals), and the tireless leaders of the anti-vaccine movement now claim to have met with Trump and received his promise to ban the most efficient and effective vaccination techniques (nevermind that the president doesn't have the authority to do this). Read the rest
Public Health officials in Shelby County, Tennessee today confirmed six cases of measles in the county, up from two last Friday. Victims of the measles outbreak are "widely diverse" in terms of age, gender and where they live, authorities said. Read the rest
A new report says anti-vaxxers are responsible for the rise in two infectious diseases we'd nearly eliminated from the United States. Read the rest
At last night's GOP Presidential Debate Theatrical Funtime Special on CNN, a brilliant moment of shining stupidity from the abundantly stupid Donald Trump.
“I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. … We’ve had so many instances — people that work for me, just the other day. Two years old, 2 ½ years old, a child, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine, and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”
Ladies and gentlemen, burn all of the things.
Politico's wrong-o-meter is a good roundup of all the crazy shit these megalomaniacal rich liars said on TV last night, and how wrongfully wrong all of it is.
Donald Trump stuck to a position that’s totally unsupported by medical evidence — that a link exists behind autism and vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other medical authorities have said repeatedly that science has demonstrated there is no link between vaccination and autism. Giving children multiple vaccinations at the same has also been proven to be safe, the CDC said.
Here's how we felt last night, watching the debate:
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Two decades years ago, 95.4 percent of kindergarteners in Washington state were vaccinated for polio. This year, only 88.4 percent had the vaccine.
Scientists may say that brakes save lives, but virtually every car-wreck co-occurs with panicked braking -- did you know that in the old days, cars didn't have brakes? Read the rest
Unvaccinated people are being officially warned by California epidemiologists to avoid Disneyland in the wake of a measles outbreak. In some counties in California, more than 1 in 5 kindergartners are unvaccinated due to "personal belief exemptions." Read the rest
I'm 38 weeks pregnant now. Two weeks ago, my husband and I both got Tdap vaccines — tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. This despite the fact that we've both gotten Tdaps relatively recently, within the last six years, thanks to a home renovation lifestyle that involves regular exposure to rusty nails.
So why re-up on the Tdap before the birth of our baby? It's all about the pertussis. Also called whooping cough, pertussis is particularly hard on infants. Pre-vaccine, it killed 4000 Americans every year, and most of them were new babies — and infections are on the rise in this country, so there's actually a reasonable risk of a newborn coming into contact with the bacteria that causes pertussis. But the larger problem is with the pertussis vaccine, itself. It doesn't have the staying power it once did. A little over 20 years ago, we switched the formulation for pertussis vaccines. There were good reasons for doing that — the "new" formula has fewer side effects. But it also doesn't seem to protect people as well for as long. In fact, the protection starts to wear off within a year of vaccination. Read the rest
It's not just that bad information on the "dangers" of vaccines is working to reduce the number of children getting vaccines — a fact that affects herd immunity. Now, there's evidence that the fake scares (and efforts to debunk them) are getting in the way of scientists publishing real evidence about actual problems with certain vaccines. These aren't the kind of broad "vaccines are poison" claims you're familiar with. Instead, we're talking about legitimate science documenting side effects that are usually very rare, but still have an impact on certain subsets of the population and need to be addressed. Read the rest
When we talk about the resurgence of childhood illnesses, we tend to focus on vaccine-resistant people as the primary cause. And it's true that a large population of un-vaccinated kids can give a disease like whooping cough a foothold in a community, and allow it to spread to kids who haven't been vaccinated yet or who can't be vaccinated for various medical reasons. But there's another facet to this story, as well. Some of the strains of bacteria that cause whooping cough are also resistant to the vaccine. Those strains have been found in Japan, France, and Finland. Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine reported on 12 cases of vaccine-resistant whooping cough in Philadelphia. Read the rest
About 20 years ago, the United States and a few other countries started using a different pertussis vaccine than had been used previously. The change was in response to public fear about some very rare neurological disorders that may or may not have had a relationship to that older vaccine (it couldn't ever be proven one way or the other).
The vaccine we use today was created to get around any possible mechanism for those disorders and, along the way, ended up having lower rates of the less-troubling (and far, far more common) sort of side effects, as well. Think short-term redness, swelling, or pain at the site of injection.
The downside, reports Maryn McKenna, is that this new vaccine might not be as effective as the old one. In fact, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, Calif., and Australia's University of Queensland’s Children’s Medical Research Unit, are raising the possibility that a less effective vaccine could be part of why we're now seeing a big increase in pertussis outbreaks.
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In the most recent research, a letter published Tuesday night in JAMA, researchers in Queensland, Australia examined the incidence of whooping cough in children who were born in 1998, the year in which that province began phasing out whole-cell pertussis vaccine (known as there as DTwP) in favor of less-reactive acellular vaccine (known as DTaP). Children who were born in that year and received a complete series of infant pertussis shots (at 2, 4 and 6 months) might have received all-whole cell, all-acellular, or a mix — and because of the excellent record-keeping of the state-based healthcare system, researchers were able to confirm which children received which shots.
Remember how the CIA used a phony vaccination campaign in order to collect DNA samples from Osama Bin Laden's family? (If this is news to you, there are lots of places to get the backstory. Suffice to say, it's morally grotesque. A doctor working with the CIA went around the region near the Bin Laden compound and gave inadequate doses of the vaccine, leaving behind kids whose parents thought they were protected from Hepatitis B, but who were, in fact, not.) This month, Taliban military leaders banned a U.S.-funded polio vaccination campaign from operating in the regions of Pakistan that they control. Polio is endemic in Pakistan. (Via Emily Willingham) Read the rest