Archive for October, 2013

“Hey non vaccinators. You’re welcome.” by bluntmoms

Monday, October 21st, 2013 (last updated)

In 1952 there were 57,628 cases of polio in the United States. In 1957, four years after mass public vaccinations began in that country, there were 5,300 reported cases of polio. By 1988 polio had all but disappeared in the US, UK, Australia and much of Europe.

Granted, I don’t have degrees in science or medicine, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the near eradication of  this disease in countries that have used aggressive vaccination polices is probably not  coincidental.

In case you don’t know what polio looks like, here ya go:


In 1962 there were over 500,000 reported cases of measles.  The first measles vaccine was introduced that same year.  By 1970 cases of measles had dropped to 47,000. In 2004 there were 37 cases.

And then something happened.  Let’s call that “something” Dr. Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy.  One of them published a blatantly flawed paper about the link between vaccines (MMR to be specific) and autism. The other one went on a crusade to spread said crap. So, it is not coincidence that we suddenly saw a spike in measles and in 2008 we saw 140 cases.

Now I’d like to show you some “worst case scenario” pictures of the measles but that would involve dead and blind children and, well, you can just conjure up those images yourself.

Stop for a moment and imagine a world that is still ravaged by diseases like this.  Seriously, think about it.  Think about Charleston South Carolina where in one year, pre measles vaccine, 900 children died.  NINE HUNDRED. CHILDREN.

We are unbelievably  fortunate to be able to protect ourselves and our children from diseases that just decades ago disfigured, blinded and killed on a rather large scale.

I know this is a hot topic and there is a lot of information, a lot of it crap, out there to sift through.  I support people making decisions based on logic and science.  I believe in being passionate in what you believe (or don’t believe).  But I do not support people using fear mongering to try and defend those choices.  I believe that if you have to resort to those kinds of tactics that you have probably made a questionable decision.

Here is a  fact that you can’t deny, no matter how many crack pot articles you show me – when vaccination rates fall epidemics follow and people (including children) get sick and/or die. When vaccination rates improve outbreaks cease.  It doesn’t get much simpler or more logical that this.

Now I understand that there are new vaccines being developed every day and people have concerns about the safety and effectiveness of them. That makes sense. It sometimes feels like we are blindly following the medical/scientific main stream community when we don’t have all the information we need to make an informed decision. But I don’t buy in to the tactics that some anti vaccinators use to defend their ways.  I don’t believe that the only reason vaccinations exist is to pad the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. I don’t believe the herd mentality  an excuse to not vaccinate is safe or even sane. Because your unvaccinated kid can still give my vaccinated kid the measles.  The measles vaccine is about 95% effective so even if you don’t want to admit it, your choice to not protect your own kids can kill another kid.

You are fortunate enough to have the right to vaccinate as you see fit.  So if you choose not to vaccinate your children and they don’t die or get permanently injured from things like the measles, polio and diphtheria I won’t expect a thank you card because I’m thinking social grace is not your strong suit.  But I will smile at your healthy children that I helped protect by vaccinating mine and silently say “You’re welcome.”


Doctors urge parents to vaccinate their children

Sunday, October 20th, 2013 (last updated)

When we tell parents that their child will be disabled for life, their shock and dismay is something I would never wish upon any parent. We have to regretfully tell them that they would not be seeing this day had they given their child polio drops.

Polio Eradication Pakistan

Be a flu fighter this winter

Saturday, October 19th, 2013 (last updated)

A short video with a Public Health doctor and Occupational Health nurse to show you just how easy it is to get the vaccine.

Leicester’s Hospitals

Second dose of vaccine cuts chickenpox cases even more

Friday, October 18th, 2013 (last updated)

Two doses of chickenpox vaccine are better than one, new research confirms.

After the introduction of the second dose of chickenpox vaccine, the rates of chickenpox infection dropped 76 percent and 67 percent at two U.S. sites tracked for the study on opposite sides of the country.

Rates of infection in adults and infants — two groups who generally don’t receive the vaccine — also went down, suggesting that higher levels of immunity in the population are decreasing the amount of circulating chickenpox.

“The first dose of vaccine was highly protective for reducing hospitalizations, deaths and other severe complications, but it wasn’t fully protective against mild disease. There were still mild breakthrough cases, and these people could transmit the disease to those who hadn’t been vaccinated,” said Dr. Rachel Civen, senior study author and a medical epidemiologist with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“In 2006, it was recommended that a second dose be given between the ages of 4 and 6. And, we’ve seen a continuous significant decline since then, and the drops are across all age groups. The transmission is less throughout the whole community,” she said.

Results of the study were published online Oct. 7 and in the November print issue of Pediatrics.


Chickenpox, which is also known as varicella, is a highly contagious viral disease. Before the varicella vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1995, about 4 million people had the chickenpox each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although many people tended to think of chickenpox as a relatively mild infection, it caused more than 10,000 hospitalizations each year and about 100 deaths annually, according to background information in the study.

After the vaccine was introduced in 1995, the incidence of chickenpox went down by 90 percent and deaths from the disease dropped by 88 percent, but there were still outbreaks occurring. That’s why experts decided to add the second dose in 2006.

The current study was designed to see how well the second dose of vaccine kept chickenpox under control. It included two sites — one in Antelope Valley, Calif., and the other in West Philadelphia.

Infections in these sites dropped dramatically between 2006 and 2010. The Antelope Valley site had 76 percent fewer cases of chickenpox in 2010 than they did in 2006. West Philadelphia saw a 67 percent decline in the same time period. Both sites had a 98 percent decline in the incidence of chickenpox from 1995 to 2010.

Of those who came down with chickenpox between 2006 and 2010 in the study sites, just 7.5 percent had been vaccinated with two doses. Slightly less than two-thirds had received one vaccination. Most of those who got the chickenpox even though they’d been vaccinated had a mild case with fewer than 50 lesions on their bodies. The study also found that hospitalization rates dropped even further.

During 2007 to 2010, just 12 chickenpox outbreaks occurred within the California site compared with 47 outbreaks during 2003 to 2006, and 236 outbreaks during 1995 to 1998, according to the study.

Civen said all of these declines can be attributed to the additional dose of vaccine. “This is solely about getting that second dose,” she noted.

“The varicella vaccine is very effective and safe. It helps those who get the vaccine and others who can’t get the vaccine, but are highly susceptible to infection, such as immunocompromised adults,” she said.

An expert not involved with the study found its results convincing.

“I think the data is pretty clear that the second dose is having a dramatic effect,” said Dr. Thomas Murray, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medical sciences at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in North Haven, Conn.

“The second dose in the varicella vaccine program is very effective in reducing varicella in the general population,” he said.

The CDC recommends that children under 13 years get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine: one between the ages of 12 months and 15 months, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years.

People aged 13 and older who’ve never had chickenpox or the vaccine should get two doses, at least 28 days apart, the CDC says.


High-dose flu vaccine more effective for seniors

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 (last updated)

Help could be on the way for some of the most vulnerable people to the flu. Researchers believe the high-dose flu vaccine can help prevent more cases of influenza for nursing home residents than the standard vaccine, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh.

The study examined 205 seniors across the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 flu seasons. Blood samples were taken to test the effectiveness of the higher dose and standard vaccines. Higher dose flu vaccines contain four times the amount of antigen to create a stronger immune response in the recipient, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that the higher dose vaccine was more effective against influenza A and B strains than the standard-dose vaccine. The higher dose vaccine was only less effective against the 2012-2013 influenza A/H1N1 strains.

The study authors suggest that frail, elderly nursing home residents might benefit from the high-dose vaccine, rather than the standard-dose vaccine.

Seniors continue to be highly susceptible to the flu. Adults over the age of 65 are responsible for more than 90 percent of yearly flu deaths. (In total, the flu kills more than 30,000 every year.) But last year’s flu vaccine was highly ineffective for seniors living in long-term care, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC does not yet know how strong this year’s flu will be  — or how effective this year’s vaccine is.

That doesn’t mean seniors should not get vaccinated this year, however. The flu vaccine remains the best way to prevent influenza, and it can reduce a person’s risk of life-threatening complications if they do contract the flu. “In patients where it doesn’t prevent influenza completely, it contributes to preventing pneumonia, hospitalization and death. In other words, it makes a more serious illnesses milder, and that’s very, very important,” according to William Schaffner, MD, the chairman of the department of preventive medicine and professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn.

This year also marked the first flu season that allowed people to choose between the standard trivalent vaccine, and a new quadrivalent vaccine, which offers protection against four flu strains rather than three. There are also new options for people with egg allergies this year, according to a letter from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Jeffrey Kopman (Health –

Immune system discovery could lead to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) vaccine to prevent mononucleosis and some cancers

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 (last updated)

Development of a vaccine against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has taken a step forward with the Canadian discovery of how EBV infection evades detection by the immune system.

EBV causes infectious mononucleosis and cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which is the most common cancer in China, as well as opportunistic cancers in people with weakened immune systems. A member of the herpes virus family that remains in the body for life, the virus infects epithelial cells in the throat and immune cells called B cells.

The researchers discovered that the virus triggers molecular events that turn off key proteins, making infected cells invisible to the natural killer T (NKT) immune cells that seek and destroy EBV-infected cells.

“If you can force these invisible proteins to be expressed, then you can render infected cells visible to NKT cells, and defeat the virus. This could be key to making a vaccine that would provide immunity from ever being infected with EBV,” says Dr. Rusung Tan, the study’s principal investigator. Dr. Tan is a scientist and director of the Immunity in Health & Disease research group at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital, and a professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of British Columbia.


For this study, the researchers looked at cells from infected tonsils that had been removed from patients at BC Children’s Hospital by Dr. Frederick Kozak. The researchers infected the tonsillar B cells with EBV, and then combined some of these cells with NKT cells. They found that more NKT cells led to fewer EBV-infected cells, while an absence of NKT cells was associated with an increase in EBV-infected cells.


Malaria vaccine that nearly halved cases among children aged between 5 and 7 months could save millions

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 (last updated)

A vaccine against malaria could be introduced in the world’s worst-hit countries in 2015, after the latest trial of a treatment produced by Britain’s biggest drug company reduced the number of cases of the disease experienced by babies.

The results of trials published on Tuesday in Durban, South Africa, showed that the RTS,S vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline nearly halved the cases of malaria experienced by children aged between five and seven months and cut the number of cases in babies aged 6 to 12 weeks by a quarter.

The treatment’s protection lasted for 18 months, although it waned slightly over time, and while that is not the sort of efficacy that parents in Europe or the US are used to getting in the vaccines given to their children, the malaria vaccine would make a significant difference to the outlook for those in areas where the tropical disease is rife.

Every year, around 660,000 people die from malaria, most of them small children under the age of five. There are about 219m cases of the disease a year worldwide, and children who survive the serious illness can suffer damage to their health and development in their lifetime afterwards.

Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK, said the company was very encouraged by the latest results and would now apply for a regulatory licence for its use in Africa under a special provision of the European Medicines Agency. “While we have seen some decline in vaccine efficacy over time, the sheer number of children affected by malaria means that the number of cases of the disease the vaccine can help prevent is impressive,” he said.

Duncan Learmouth, GSK’s senior vice-president for developing countries and market access, said that if malaria were as serious a problem in the UK as it was in Africa, the company would be seeking a licence for this vaccine in spite of its limited efficacy.

“I’m not sure it would be different if the impact of the disease was as it is in Africa. If we were looking at a disease in Europe and the US that had a similar clinical impact and burden on the health services, I actually think we would be pressing ahead for this,” he said.

Inventing a malaria vaccine has involved breaking new medical ground. This is the first-ever vaccine against a parasite, said Learmouth. There are other novel vaccines in development, such as one from the US that involves injecting patients with weakened parasites, but Learmouth insisted GSK was not rushing to get a licence because it feared competitors.

“We’re really not. I think the nearest vaccine is still in phase one – there is a huge long way to go. This is a very complex area. I don’t expect a competitor vaccine for a very long time,” he said.

GSK says the vaccine will be not-for-profit – but it will add 5% to the cost price which will go towards further research and development work on tropical diseases. The pharmaceutical giant has spent $350m (£218m) on the vaccine so far and expects to invest $260m more before it reaches children. A team of 40 people will be needed to process the 1m pages of paperwork out of the many trials, which were held in seven Africa countries in different age groups. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also put in about $200m.

The Guardian & Reuters Video

No serious adverse reactions to HPV vaccination

Monday, October 14th, 2013 (last updated)

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and their Danish colleagues have monitored HPV-vaccinated girls via patient data registries in order to examine the incidence of a wide range of diseases and thus determine if there are any serious adverse effects of the vaccine. Their results show no significant increase of the examined diseases in the vaccinated girls relative to their unvaccinated peers.

The study included almost a million Swedish and Danish girls born between 1988 and 2000, and compared roughly 300,000 girls who had been HPV vaccinated with 700,000 who had not. All the girls were between 10 and 17 at time of vaccination, and the vaccines had been administered at some time between 2006 and 2010. The researchers then used patient registries in Denmark and Sweden to study the incidence of any serious adverse effects of the vaccine.

The researchers examined 53 different diagnoses requiring hospital or specialist care, including blood clots, neurological diseases, and autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes. They found that none of these diseases were more common in the vaccinated group than in the unvaccinated group. Mild adverse effects, such as temporary fever and swelling at the site of injection, were not studied however.

Lisen Arnheim-Dahlström “You could see our study as part of a societal alarm system, and as such it did not alert us to any signs that HPV vaccination carries a risk of serious adverse events,” says Dr Lisen Arnheim-Dahlström, associate professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “We will, of course, be continuing to monitoring HPV vaccination in terms of both this and its efficacy over time.”

In Sweden, HPV vaccination has been available through the general vaccination programme to girls between the ages of 11 and 12 since 2012. Over 120 million doses of the HPV vaccine used in Sweden (Gardasil) have been administered around the world. The majority of adverse effects reported to the Swedish Medical Products Agency have included fever, headache, local swelling at the site of injection and other mild reactions. However, as the present study did not consider data from primary care, such mild events do not appear in its results.

Karolinska Institutet

“Nurses Who Vaccinate” launches official website

Sunday, October 13th, 2013 (last updated)

The founder, Melody Butler, saw a need for pro-vaccine nurses to speak up and join together.

As a pediatric nurse at a large surburban hospital, she decided to create an one-stop-shop for nurses looking for online information for preventive medicine and immunizations. Through Nurses Who Vaccinate, she hopes to provide a Web portal that provides free information for those looking to research vaccines, stay up to date with data, and prevent illness.

Welcome to the official Nurses Who Vaccinate website: ! Nurses Who Vaccinate promotes knowledge and competency in immunizations & works to position nurses and health care professionals as vaccine advocates for colleagues, patients, and the public.

Nurses who vaccinate

Nurses Who Vaccinate

It’s OK to ask. Every parent has questions about childhood immunization

Saturday, October 12th, 2013 (last updated)

We all have questions and concerns when it comes to immunizations for our children. But with so many different sources of information out there, it can be tricky to wade through all of it and make an informed decision.

Now there is a website to help you. Visit for information and join the conversation.

OK to Ask VT