The whole cell pertussis vaccine, media malpractice, and the long-term effects of avoiding difficult conversations

Seventy years-ago, a pioneering American scientist named Pearl Kendrick combined killed, whole cell pertussis bacterium with weakened diphtheria and tetanus toxins to create the first combination diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine. It was an almost instantaneous success: In 1934, six out of every 100,000 Americans died of whooping cough. By 1948, that figure was less than one in 100,000; by 1960, there were fewer than ten cases of the disease per 100,000 residents.

In the coming decades, there were reports about complications from the whole-cell pertussis vaccine. This was not surprising: while whole-cell vaccines can be both effective and safe, their use of the actual contagion as opposed to an isolated component mean they are among the crudest of all vaccines. The whole-cell pertussis vaccine could cause febrile seizures, high fevers, and even fainting — reactions which are understandably scary for parents but which typically have no long-term effects. (My younger sister ran an extremely high fever after her first DPT injection, which she received in the late 1970s.) There were also unconfirmed reports — of brain damage, comas, even paralysis — which to this day have never been verified.

Fast-forward to April 19, 1982, when  WRC-TV, the local NBC affiliate in Washington, DC, aired a special titled “Vaccine Roulette.” The report, hosted by Lea Thompson, was an example of scare-mongering at it’s worst: Throughout the hour-long show, Thompson featured heart-breaking interviews with parents  who described how their children had been left in near-comatose states after receiving a vaccine that was mandatory for public-school children in the vast majority of states. These were augmented by what turned out to be inaccurate statistics, cherry-picked quotes, and risible falsehoods about some of the “experts” Thompson used to support her thesis that the “medical establishment” was “aggressively promot[ing]” a vaccine while willfully ignoring “the consequences.” It also presented parents’ recollections as fact — and, as we know from countless studies, memory is imminently fallible.  Those doctors and public health officials who disagreed with Thompson, on the other hand, were subjected to hours of grilling. (One AAP official said that over the course of a five-hour interview, Thompson asked the same question, “repeatedly in slightly different ways, apparently to develop or obtain an answer that fitted with the general tone of the program.”) When Thompson, who won an Emmy for the show, was asked about her errors, she said the grousing was simply coming from “doctors [who] are miffed because they have to talk to their patients now.”

In the days after “Vaccine Roulette” aired, Thompson’s employer provided callers with the phone numbers of other people who’d also called looking for more information about negative information regarding vaccines — and in doing so, helped create the modern-day anti-vaccine movement. Among the parents who met in the days after the airing of “Vaccine Roulette” was Barbara Loe Fisher, who soon formed a group with the Orwellian moniker the National Vaccine Information Center.

At the time, Fisher was a former PR professional who’d become a full-time housewife after she’d given birth to her son Chris four years earlier. When “Vaccine Roulette” aired, it had been more than a year since Chris had started displaying symptoms of what would eventually be diagnosed as a range of developmental disorders. I wrote about Fisher’s reaction to Thompson’s broadcast in my book:

It wasn’t until she saw Thompson’s broadcast that the pieces fell into place. The reactions that Thompson described—convulsions, loss of affect, permanent brain damage—were, Fisher realized, identical to those experienced by her son. Suddenly, Fisher remembered in meticulous detail what had happened one day eighteen months earlier, when Chris had received the final dose of his DPT vaccine:

When we got home, Chris seemed quieter than usual. Several hours later I walked into his bedroom to find him sitting in a rocking chair staring straight ahead as if he couldn’t see me standing in the doorway. His face was white and his lips slightly blue, and when I called out his name, his eyes rolled back in his head, his head fell to his shoulder and it was like he had suddenly fallen asleep sitting up. I tried, but could not wake him. When I picked him up, he was like a dead weight and I carried him to his bed, where he stayed without moving for more than six hours, through dinnertime, until I called my Mom, who told me to immediately try to wake him, which I finally did with great difficulty. But he didn’t know where he was, could not speak coherently and couldn’t walk. I had to carry him to the bathroom and he fell asleep again in my arms and then slept for twelve more hours.

 It’s an incredibly moving story, and one that Fisher has told to congressional panels, federal committees, and state legislatures, and at national press conferences for more than twenty-five years. In all that time, she’s almost never been questioned about the specifics of her narrative—and there are parts that, if nothing else, certainly are confounding.~ Fisher, as she told an Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Committee in 2001, is “the daughter of a nurse, the granddaughter of a doctor, and a former writer at a teaching hospital” who viewed herself as “an especially well-educated woman when it came to science and medicine.” How was it that her only response to finding her unresponsive son displaying symptoms associated with heart attacks, strokes, and suffocation was to carry him to bed and leave him alone for six more hours? And if Chris’s reaction to his fourth DPT shot was so severe that it transformed an ebullient boy into a sluggish shell of his former self, why had he been fine after receiving the first three doses?

Shortly after the formation of Dissatisfied Parents Together, Fisher founded the National Vaccine Information Center. Since then, she’s played an essential role in organizing a movement that’s targeted the press, politicians, and the public in equal measures. The result has been a steady erosion of vaccine requirements and a steady increase in the percent of the population skeptical of vaccine efficacy. 

***

The vaccine wars of the 1980′s were nowhere near as pitched or as prolonged as those of today, but the focus on the P in the DPT shot was one factor that helped spur the development and eventual adoption of an acellular pertussis vaccine, which was first introduced in the United States in the early 1990′s. (By the end of that decade, the acellular formulation was used for all five recommended doses of what is now called the DTaP vaccine.) Because of the near-impossibility of having an honest discourse about vaccine side effects, there were few conversations about whether the advantages of the acellular pertussis vaccine outweighed its disadvantages — or even what those disadvantages were.

It’s looking increasingly like we’re in the midst of learning the consequences of failing to have those tough conversations two decades ago. For the past several years, the United States has had a series of unusually robust pertussis outbreaks. (Typically, outbreaks go in multi-year cycles, with peaks and troughs. That hasn’t been happening as of late: There were 27,550 cases in 2010, and there have already been 26,146 so far this year.) One theory has been that the acellular vaccine doesn’t confer as lengthy immunity as the whole-cell vaccine did — and a new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (abstract, PDF) provides strong evidence that that is, indeed, the case. “[O]ur evaluation of data from a large pertussis outbreak in California [in 2010],” the authors write, “showed that protection from disease after a fifth dose of DTaP among children who had received only DTaP vaccines was relatively short-lived and waned substantially each year. Our findings highlight the need to develop new pertussis-containing vaccines that will provide long-lasting immunity.”

There are those who would point out that we actually know of a pertussis-containing vaccine that provides long-lasting immunity — but the chances of returning to the whole-cell DPT vaccine are next to nil. In the future, hopefully we, as a society, will have the courage and fortitude to have these difficult discussions — but for that to happen, the media needs to use the privilege of communicating with the public responsibly and judiciously. “Vaccine Roulette” might have been good for Lea Thompson’s career, but it was awful for public health.

***

One final note: The conclusions of the NEJM study also illustraste why the current pertussis outbreaks are occurring not only in unvaccinated children but also in children and adults with waning immunity. (Contrast this with the measles outbreaks which gripped the country last year, which were almost entirely initiated and propagated by deliberately unvaccinated individuals.) As Amanda Schaffer recently pointed out in Slate, this does not mean that unvaccinated children are not presenting an increased risk for the rest of us:

Now here’s how parents who don’t give it to their kids, quite apart from those flaws, are making things worse for all of us. Unimmunized children are simply more likely to get the disease than their vaccinated peers, even with the limitations of the current formulation. And when they do, they are more apt to develop severe symptoms that last longer. This means they’re more likely to pass the disease on to others, including infants, who are at greater risk of dying. Nationally, the anti-vaxers may not be responsible for most of the cases in the spate of recent outbreaks. But that’s mainly because they make up a small fraction of the population.

In addition to making sure their children are vaccinated, parents should make sure they have their pertussis boosters up to date. My mother caught whooping cough while I was working on my book, and I can tell you with confidence that it can be a nasty, nasty disease regardless of how old you are.

 

~ I tried to interview Fisher several times over a period of more than a year. She refused, explaining that my association with Conde Nast — I am a contributing editor at Vanity Fair — meant that I was untrustworthy.

NOTE: Portions of this post previously appeared in the chapters “Fluoride scares and swine flu scandals” and “Vaccine Roulette” of my book The Panic Virus.

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60 Responses to The whole cell pertussis vaccine, media malpractice, and the long-term effects of avoiding difficult conversations

  1. Jen in TX says:

    Say, perhaps someday we can have an “honest discourse” about the ACIP’s attempts to sweep those pesky DTP reactions under the rug by recommending pre-medicating with Tylenol beforehand and the possible consequences of making these sorts of recommendations based on one measly preliminary study.

    Oh wait…silly me…”nothing’s safer” than Tylenol, right?

    Nevermind.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000917.htm

    http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=514103

  2. Guy Chapman says:

    Hi Seth. Please badger your publishers to make the Kindle e-book available in the UK and elsewhere. Thanks!

    • Seth Mnookin says:

      Guy — It’s not my publisher; it’s the fact that no British publisher had the least amount of interest in the book (and I was willing to give UK rights away for practically nothing). If a publisher over there brings the book out, it’ll be available in e-book version in Europe as well.

  3. B says:

    I’m not surprised she refused an Internet. Discussion, validation and proof play a poor second to fabrication and imagination in the anti-vaccination lobby.

  4. Gaythia Weis says:

    I think that there is a credible alternative story line here. The DPT shot really did cause an obviously adverse reaction in infants. And pediatricians really did try to cover that up by handing out free samples of Tylenol.
    In fact, my challenge of my pediatrician over this issue ultimately led to me finding a new pediatrician. Taking a substance to suppress inflammation at the same time one was deliberately trying to provoke an immune reaction was clearly not right. But even though I basically didn’t trust his advice, replacing him took almost a year to accomplish, given how insurance works.

    This isn’t opposition to vaccination, it is about a failed public health system.
    So busy screaming “antivaxx!” that they failed to notice that the new DPT shot would require a booster.
    So busy screaming “antivaxx!” that they failed to notice that the previous pertussis epidemic in California’s Central Valley was caused because some immigrant families had never been vaccinated.
    So busy screaming “antivaxx!” that they fail to provide enough funding to identify and treat pregnant women who are Hepatitis B positive.

    And sometimes, the problem is the medical professionals themselves. Pertussis boosters are apparently expensive to stock. I’ve had to battle my own doctors (mainstream, hospital associated clinic type doctors) three times in three different states before finding one that would give me boosters for Pertussis and for tetanus. One actually flat out told me that because he’d never known anyone with tetanus and so he didn’t see any reason to bother with it.

    And then in Fort Collins, Colorado, rather perversely, even after an outbreak of invasive meningococcal menningitis, that ultimately led to 4 deaths, local health officials declared that the vaccine, which cost $125. was too expensive to be worthwhile.
    “But even though there have been two deaths from the disease in Fort Collins and two others remain hospitalized, the situation isn’t so dire that everyone should rush out to get vaccinated, said Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Larimer County Department of Public Health and Environment. ”
    http://www.9news.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=141670

    In a demonstration of the fact that the general public is not opposed to vaccines when need can sensibly be demonstrated, to this day Fort Collins has a yearly fundraiser to support a non-profit that supplies these vaccines.

    IMHO, the battle against antivaxxers has been counter productive. It gives a platform to a small group of extremists, and actually fights them in a way that makes those extremists seem more sensible than they would otherwise.

    Other public health centered initiatives, such as efforts to provide a “cocoon of safety” around too young to immunize infants, by insuring that parents and caregivers have been immunized are much more effective. Other first line effort would include targeting communities in which disease (such as Hepatitis B ) is endemic. It also makes little sense, in my opinion, to go off on battles to get pre teens immunized for HPV when the vaccine may in fact wear off before it is needed AND at the same time, many women are falling through the cracks of our public health system and failing to get Pap smears.

    I think that “antivaxxers” make too convenient a target. It is easier to have an enemy to combat, and nice for all the problems to be due to somebody else.

    I think that a focus on overall sensible application of Public Health principles, and making vaccinations more readily accessible and affordable, would go a long way towards increasing immunization rates.

    • Ken says:

      “IMHO, the battle against antivaxxers has been counter productive. It gives a platform to a small group of extremists, and actually fights them in a way that makes those extremists seem more sensible than they would otherwise.”

      Who are you talking about here, Gaythia? Do you have any names?

  5. Gaythia Weis says:

    I can’t edit my previous comment submission now for a correction of Tylenol, which is not NSAID. But my (long ago) conversation with the pediatrician did center on his admission that he saw Tylenol as more for the parents, who would, if the baby were asleep, not disturb him with phone calls worried about a fussy baby from the DPT shot. And, what I wanted him to identify was how I would then identify if something were wrong. And how much of a fever would be ok, if that were a reaction, and when did he want a call.
    The way that medical practices are set up in this country, after months developing a very close relationship with one’s obstetrician, one starts up fresh with a pediatrician with whom one has had, for a first child only a short interview before the birth of the baby. If the birth has been a healthy one, vaccinations are really the first time a parent deals with the pediatrician at all. My solution to this pediatrician was to reject him, but not the concept of vaccinations. He did a few years later, go public with a very sad story about one of his patients who refused vaccinations all together, and did get measles.
    I think that a lot could be accomplished with better communication with parents. If the pediatricians themselves do not have time for this, nurse practitioners or others could be involved. We have a shortage of family physicians in this country. One of the advantages of a family practice as opposed to a series of specialists would be that the continuity would help build long term relationships, (assuming that parents had enough freedom of choice regarding medical care to be able to connect with a compatible doctor)
    We also do not have school nurses anymore, who in my childhood where involved with both tracking immunizations and organizing school based clinics to administer them.
    Having personally dealt with infants who did have the old vaccine, (minus the Tylenol) I don’t think that an effort to return to that is going to be supported. I would certainly personally advise against it. Maybe researchers can go back and produce a new vaccine that is both more effective than the current one and also less likely to cause a reaction than the original version.
    I think that encouraging boosters, and a lot of effort regarding the “cocoon of safety” are better strategies.

  6. Guy Chapman says:

    It’s all about informed consent. As parents, we were given accurate information about the vaccines we were offered, especially about the level of risk and the likely effects (which amount in most cases to a harmless mild fever easily managed with paracetamol). We chose to vaccinate. In the event most of the shots caused no reaction at all.

    In fact our second child was receiving his vaccinations while the Wakefield MMR/autism stuff was at its most prominent, before the fraud became known, and my GP actually trained with Wakefield and knew him well as a rugby teammate. We still opted for the vaccinations because pertussis is deadly and the link even then looked speculative.

  7. Kathy says:

    Excellent post. I hope your mother is fully recovered. I enjoy sharing your posts here:

    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=417809281613135&id=236107336440146

  8. Vicki Gulch says:

    As a family dealing with the serious side effects of the pertussis vaccine given to my daughter 28 years ago I can honestly say it was the worse choice I have ever made in my life. My daughter had the vaccine at 4 months. She was instantly very ill. I called the doctors office and they told me to give her tylenol. She did not get better. I called them again and they told me that her reaction was normal for this type of shot. Her temp was 106 and the soft spot on her head was swollen and purple. I thought I was going to loose her that night. In the morning I took her in without them approving the appointment. She was crippled. The doctor said “She was born like this.” I screamed. I knew that she was normal and I had pictures of her to prove it. He sent us to a neurologist who confirmed my child had brain damage from the shot. She was in and out of the hospital for 1 year and 6 months. She has seizures constantly and in clusters as an adult. Yes this is a rare complication but that does not matter when it is your child who the rare complications has afftected. Thankfully they were able to restore her body through physical therapy, but there is nothing they can do for the seizures.

    • Chris says:

      Her temp was 106 and the soft spot on her head was swollen and purple. I thought I was going to loose her that night.

      At that age, a temperature like that qualifies for a call to 911. Why did you not do that?

      I called 911 when my kid had seizures just a day after a doctor’s appointment where I was told he seemed to getting better.

      • Gaythia Weis says:

        Chris, you need to understand that Vicki Gulch’ experience at the time was general practice. And that 911 was not as generally available in the past. And what would have been the likelihood that a parent got anything other than further disrespectful dismissal?

        When handed Tylenol by my pediatrician I specifically asked him as to how I was supposed to know which amount of fever or discomfort was to be considered safe. What he told me was that the Tylenol was “for the parents” so the baby would sleep through the experience, not worry the parents who in turn would not bother the doctor. He had no real answer for “where is the dividing line between safe and not safe” but clearly, he was expressing the opinion that parents who did become concerned by a fever would have been considered excessive worryworts.
        All of which caused me to get a different pediatrician. And skip the Tylenol. At the time I did not recognize that this was general practice, I thought he was individually a bad doctor.

        • Chris says:

          Ms. Weis:

          And that 911 was not as generally available in the past.

          That is not an excuse. 911 services were available thirty years ago (I used 911 over thirty years ago when a drunken stranger tried to enter my apartment). And there were pages early in the old phone books to call other emergency services. Or just drive to the local hospital’s emergency room.

          I remember being told to watch for very high fevers after giving birth twenty four years ago, and 106 is considered a very high fever. I had a fever of 104 after my son’s birth over twenty four years ago, and I was seen promptly (his birth ripped me from step to stern, and it became infected). If the standard practice was to ignore 106 degree fever, then that is a good reason to change doctors!

          And all you have from Ms. Gulch is an anecdote. The plural of anecdote is not data. What you need to do is compare the fever effects of the vaccine versus that of the actual vaccine.

          Now, Ms. Weis, you need to provide me the title, journal and date of the PubMed indexed study that shows a vaccine causes very high fever (and some do, rarely) more often than the actual disease (which is more common), and then you might have a valid argument.

        • Chris says:

          Ooops. My comment has a very big typo:

          What you need to do is compare the fever effects of the vaccine versus that of the actual disease.

          Sorry about that. My son is almost twenty five years old, and I remember being given specific fever temperatures to worry about.

          Though recent research reveals that giving Tylenol will suppress the effectiveness of the vaccines. I never really used the Tylenol drops because our family doctor was very sure to tell us a bit of fever was good and nothing to worry about. Though he was also sure to tell us that a high fever was very serious, especially for babies.

          Here are some modern fever guidelines.

          • Gaythia Weis says:

            Chris,
            You don’t understand my point and are, IMHO, trying to create an argument over the wrong issue.

            I support vaccines and did utilize the old DPT shot because that was the best available at the time.

            My point is that the pediatricians at the time apparently in a manner much more widespread than just my own case, mishandled communication with patients. Handing out free samples of Tylenol was something that was apparently fairly general practice. Doctors gave a clear message of not wanting to be bothered. Thus parents were actively discouraged from calling.

            The old DPT shot left large numbers of parents at home nervously monitoring fever in newborn infants and wondering what to do and when to do it.
            My conclusion was that my individual pediatrician was a jerk. I could not get my pediatrician to effectively communicate what he expected me to do if my baby had a fever. I could see that some amount of fever might be a good indication of a health immune system in action. But if 106 was indeed too much, at what point before that did he want to be called? The message from him was that by handing out the Tylenol, he anticipated that the baby would sleep, the parents would stay calm and not call, and he could spend his evening in peace and quiet without those pesky parents bothering him. This is not a setup designed to get parents to take effective action.

            Neither Seth Mnookin nor I can go back in time to set up a scientific survey to see whose theory is right. Seth, above, seems to blame “antivaxxers” for the loss of usage of a more effective vaccine. I say that poor communication on the part of pediatricians led to a situation in which pediatricians lost some amount of the trust of parents. Thus, while some of us may have simply blamed individual pediatricians, others blamed the whole vaccine process.

            The first time it is heard, the potential of an autism linkage does make some amount of sense. Breaking the appeal of that message requires more than jumping up and down and shouting “antivaxxer” it involves actively acknowledging the real concerns on the part of parents that drive parents in the direction of finding alternative messages more credible.

            In my opinion, effective science communication needs to be done in ways that acknowledge real concerns and address them in a manner that focuses on those concerns without simply giving the “antivaxxer” crowd the publicity they so crave. In fact, I think that the way public vaccination communication was mishandled gave Andrew Wakefield and friends much more of a public stage for much longer than ought to have been the case. I think we ought to learn from this and incorporate better health and science communication techniques when similar issues come up in the future.

            And also, for new parents, the autism message does not really resonate until the baby is born and vaccines are confronted directly. In my opinion, there are similar new issues of folklore that arise in the pre-birth process. Most obstetrical offices have education programs that utlize nurse practitioners and others to answer questions and concerns. Pediatric offices can (and in some cases now do) turn vaccination education into a fairly routine part of such a program.
            If we want “antivaxxers” to be seen as the isolated nut cases that they really are then we ought to handle them as such and stop highlighting them.

          • Chris says:

            I still say there is no excuse for not getting emergency medical services for a child with a fever of 106. That is actually high enough to cause real brain damage.

            I have in front of me the 1982 edition of the American Medical Association Family Medical Guide. I bought it long before I had kids to help me know when to or not call my family doctor. On page 221, in the lower right corner of the flow chart on what to do with a child who has a fever it says if the fever is over 102 to call your physician immediately (he/she should have someone from their practice on call). I would add that a fever of 106, that would constitute an emergency.

            I have had a child with seizures, I cannot imagine not calling for emergency services when you have a very ill child. Yet, some who claim vaccine injury from seizures will also reveal they never called 911, or followed up with a neurologist or there own doctor. It is very hard to get actual medical details when they have no medical records.

            And it is a reminder that these stories are anecdotes, and the plural of anecdote is not data. Since my son’s last seizure was from an actual disease before there was a vaccine for it: I value scientific evidence over anecdotes.

  9. Margot says:

    This article is ridiculous. I almost died from this vaccine in 1982 and you have the nerve to suggest that my mother has a poor memory and doesn’t understand anything? Because she listened to the radio warnings about this vaccine, she recognized my symptoms shortly after receiving it and her awareness prevented me from going into a coma and possibly dying.

    • The article cites a study which shows that human recall is not reliable, so nobody is suggesting your mother’s memory is any worse than that of the rest of our species. I don’t know what your symptoms were, but the science is very clear: the old DTP vaccine did not cause encephalopathy or seizure disorders. Correlation does not automatically point to causation.

      • Gaythia Weis says:

        1. Vaccinations are important.
        2.Vaccinations, while much safer than the alternative of actually getting the diseases they prevent, are still not risk free.
        3. Modern scientific medical research can help to develop vaccines that are both effective, and minimize risk.

        Current information from the modern version of the DTaP, (which causes many less adverse reactions than the older, whole cell, version of this vaccine) still contains the following warnings, straight from the website for the US Government, Center for Disease Control (which interestingly, must have been deemed “essential” as it is still up today, during the US Government shutdown):
        http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/should-not-vacc.htm#dtap
        “DTaP vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, & acellular Pertussis)
        Some children should not get DTaP vaccine or should wait.

        Children with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. But children who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting DTaP vaccine.
        Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of DTaP should not get another dose.
        Any child who suffered a brain or nervous system disease within 7 days after a dose of DTaP should not get another dose.
        Talk with your doctor if your child:
        had a seizure or collapsed after a dose of DTaP
        cried non-stop for 3 hours or more after a dose of DTaP
        had a fever over 105 degrees Fahrenheit after a dose of DTaP.

        Ask your health care provider for more information. Some of these children should not get another dose of pertussis vaccine, but may get a vaccine without pertussis, called DT. DTaP should not be given to anyone 7 years of age or older.”

        The needed, yet difficult conversations regarding vaccination need to acknowledge that risk is real.
        The United States has instituted the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System(VAERS) and the accompanying National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). These were created to provide a federal no-fault system for compensating vaccine-related injuries or death by establishing a claim procedure involving the United States Court of Federal Claims and special masters.
        Modern vaccines are well researched before introduction, and generally, reports of issues into the VALRS system in the first year or two are proven to be not not caused by the vaccination, but merely correlate with the stage in life in which the vaccines are given. Still, these systems are important structures in managing risk.

        Belittling the real experiences of real people regarding the real hazards of this older version of the DTaP vaccine is detrimental to good science communication, in that it makes it appear to the public that those science communicators are incapable of seeing the nuances of complicated risk determinations. In many cases the older DTaP vaccine gave normal infants symptoms that were very close to those in which parents could reasonably be expected to heed warnings and take their child in for emergency medical attention. The way that these parental medical concerns were mishandled in the past by medical professionals is part of what led to a credibility gap in which initial reports of a possible autism link seemed quite possible to many of those parents. In debunking what turned out to be false claims regarding that autism link, it is important to not go overboard in the manner in which risk information is conveyed.

        The newer DTaP works well, as long as boosters are provided at needed intervals.

        Of course, all that requires is a society committed to providing public health services for all, and at the moment, with the federal government shut down due to the insistence of some that “Obamacare” not be implemented, that does seem to be a real problem.

        • Margot says:

          Well said, Gaythia!

        • I’m confused. In point number two you write “(vaccines) are still not risk free.” In the next point you write “Modern scientific medical research can help to develop vaccines that are both effective, and minimize risk.” So which do you want – vaccines that are “risk free” or vaccines that minimize risk? The former is not possible, since everything under the sun has a risk to it. The latter is the goal of vaccine makers and federal regulators. So what, exactly, is your complaint?

          The list of adverse reactions are what has been reported during vaccine trials. The list is written by lawyers, and does not reflect actual cause and effect. It means that some persons who had vaccine A reported reaction B some time afterwards. The reference to “brain or nervous system disease” is a clear reference to encephalopathy and the seizure disorders that were once temporally associated with the old DTP. That link has been disproved. But since encephalopathy and seizure disorders still occur, some are bound to happen “after” a vaccine. So they are reported.

          Some contest is needed to understand what is meant by “the risk is real.” As we both know, everything has risk. I’ve never heard anyone seriously suggest that vaccines are 100% risk free. What is not real is the way anti-vaccine personalities exaggerate the incidence of vaccine injury, which is real but rare. To give an example, we know that shark attacks are real and rare. Imagine if suddenly thousands of people claimed a shark attack every year (in 2011 there were 118 with 17 fatalities), offering as evidence every cut and scrape they discovered “after” they swam in the ocean. Would you say that the risk of shark attack was not real? Or that shark attacks were real but rare, and that some of those swimmers were mistaken? It’s an imperfect metaphor, because it’s kind of hard to mistake a sea urchin for a great white, but I hope you get the idea.

          • Guy Chapman says:

            It is emblematic of the bullshit endemic in the antivaccinationist community that you misrepresent minimising risk and not being risk free in the way you do.

            Most immunisations produce no lasting ill effects. A tiny number produce a tragic issue. For context, smallpox killed over a quarter of a billion people in the 20th Century before it was eliminated in the 70s.

            The risk/benefit equation is solidly in favour of immunisation, and getting steadily better over time. If you really hate immunisations that much, you should press for a concerted campaign of immunisation to wipe out measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio and so on. Then they’d be unnecessary!

  10. lilady says:

    As a recently retired public health nurse, I am offended by some of the comments posted here…

    “Belittling the real experiences of real people regarding the real hazards of this older version of the DTaP vaccine is detrimental to good science communication, in that it makes it appear to the public that those science communicators are incapable of seeing the nuances of complicated risk determinations. In many cases the older DTaP vaccine gave normal infants symptoms that were very close to those in which parents could reasonably be expected to heed warnings and take their child in for emergency medical attention. The way that these parental medical concerns were mishandled in the past by medical professionals is part of what led to a credibility gap in which initial reports of a possible autism link seemed quite possible to many of those parents. In debunking what turned out to be false claims regarding that autism link, it is important to not go overboard in the manner in which risk information is conveyed.”

    Do you really believe that any nurse or any doctor would jeopardize an infant or a young child, by not screening each patient for medical contraindications for each vaccine, scheduled to be administered?

    Do you really believe that I or any licensed nurse or doctor would trivialize concerns that parents have about vaccines?

    http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4060.pdf

    (Anecdotal)

    Both of my children, born in 1970 and 1976 received whole cell pertussis vaccines. The older child who was born “normal” and healthy did have high fevers, displayed fussiness and crying for several hours after receiving whole cell pertussis vaccines. My little boy was born with a rare genetic disorder and had a pre-existing grand mal seizure disorder. After receiving the whole cell pertussis vaccines, he had a low grade temperature, cried a bit and was fussy for ~ one-half hour.

  11. Rose says:

    I don’t understand this at all. Gaythia’s child’s reaction was tragic, but you all are acting so crazy, like it’s her fault. All I hear from her is vaccines are not safe under all circumstances. Not only do you go bonkers over anti-vaxxers, you accuse anyone whose child had a severe reaction as though they are responsible for the children dying from ineffective vaccines.

    My son had an HHE to the DTwP… The ~only~ long term study done on children who had that reaction said their 10 point language differential must have been due to their bi-lingual status. Yet you can find 100′s of ~epidemiological~ studies that say the MMR doesn’t cause autism.

    The children of Minnesota’s Somalia’s population are highly represented in autism numbers, like 1 in 32 (whites, 1 in 38) the difference being ALL (as in 100% ) of the Somali kids had intellectual disabilities…I think it’s normally 50% or fewer having I.D. Seems Somali mother use bleaching cream, which was studied. Some jars contained up to 38,000 ppm mercury. Correlation does not equal causation, but WTH?

    I .

    • Gaythia Weis says:

      Rose, I am confused, are you mixing me up with some other commenter? I do think that vaccines are very much safer than the alternative, contracting the diseases which they prevent. I also think that focusing on anti-vaxxers, especially in the case of whooping cough, has deferred action on important other considerations, such as access to medical care, changes in the ways vaccinations are offered to the public, and the need for all adults to get whooping cough booster shots.

  12. Rose says:

    Yes, Gaythia, I was….Vicki’s story. Thanks. I get confused easily.

    I just don’t understand why any parent who says my child had a reaction is frequently attacked, as though their ignorance was responsible, or they over-reacted, or under-reacted (me) or whatever. I think the vaxxers can be as crazy as the anti-vaxxers. One could say, “God, that ‘s awful! No wonder you question the authority of the medical establishment.”

    Nope.

    It’s always some screaming meme about being responsible for killing kids. They tell you their personal story and all of a sudden they are responsible for millions dying. It’s @#$%ed no matter which way you look at it.

    Interestingly, my son’s learning disability is so freaking selective and indicative of brain damage, I just sit back and watch waiting for the screaming meme’s on both sides to end, so real science can enter. He’s fine, other than the continued indications of Gerstmann’s syndrome: dysgraphia, dyscalculia, finger agnosia, and…oh, yes, left/right confusion. It has been specifically located to the left parietal lobe of the angular gyrus in strokes, tumors, and TBI. I don’t KNOW that the brain swelling caused it. He did have an MRI at age 3 years and there were no indicators..I’ve never had another one done.

    He got all his vaccines, but I did join the Autism Omnibus Hearings in 2009. (He was diagnosed PDD-nos at age 3) I believe vaccines are necessary, but I’ve always listened to the stories and never doubted them, either.

    • Chris says:

      My son suffered seizures from a now vaccine preventable disease, he could not speak when he was three years old, and still have a very definite learning disability. This is why I want to know the relative risk between the disease and the vaccine. Essentially, which is more likely to cause seizures: the disease or the vaccine?

      And the answer should be study by a qualified reputable researcher, and not random anecdotes. Because there is no way I expect you to believe me, a random person posting on teh internets.

      • Rose says:

        Chris, I believe you. I am sorry your son suffered from a preventable disease. I would be angry at anti-vaccine zealots…and take their craziness personally. (You are being kind considering your story.) But the zealots on each side aren’t the total measure of people who want vaccine safety. The polarization is causing vaccine safety to be ignored.

        Vaccines have saved millions of lives. But they are not benign. That is ALL I want anyone to hear from me.

        • Chris says:

          “But they are not benign.”

          No one would ever honestly claim that vaccines have never caused harm. That is precisely why we no longer vaccinate for smallpox nor do we use the oral polio vaccine on children.

          Again, it is the relative risk that needs to be considered.

  13. Rose says:

    Chris, Dr. Paul Offit is the Vangaurd of the Vaxxer Brigade. He is a fine man,and highly regarded. But he once said an idiotic thing, he said children could safely receive 10,000 vaccines a day, and their immune systems could handle it.(Their immune systems fight off as many bacteria daily.) Orac, who makes his living from anti-vaxxers, maybe, I don’t know…well, anyhow, covers it here: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/07/28/more-execrable-journalism-about-vaccines/

    That could be true. Polly Matzinger, infamous immunologist previously at the Ghost Lab, once said, which would be agreeable with Dr. Offit’s stance, that it is the adjuvants that the body reacts to, not the bacteria or the virus, which has pretty much been de-fanged by making it acellular. The whole cell pertussis was changed to acellular after my son received his DTwP.

    • Ken says:

      Rose, you are mistaken on a number of key points. First, Offit didn’t “say” children could safely receive 10,000 vaccines a day, and their immune systems could handle it. That statement came in a peer-reviewed journal. There’s a difference between an off-the-cuff remark, which you imply, and a published medical observation. In the context of the article, which you obviously haven’t read, “vaccine” refers to a vaccine antigen. The article said a child’s immune system could theoretically mount an immune response to 100,000 (not 10,000) unique antigens in one day. If you think he is wrong, then you need to review his article, and show us where he got it wrong. Nobody seriously thinks Offit was talking about 100,000 actual shots, which contain about 12 gallons of saline solution. Also, Orac does not “maybe” make a living from anti-vaxers. That’s what Mr. Wakefield does. Orac is a surgeon.

      • Rose says:

        Orac’s fame comes from goading anti-vaxxers. He’s right to do so…I’m glad I didn’t realize my son’s HHE was a compensable reaction, and that further immunization was contraindicated. He received ALL his vaccinations, with no further reactions besides the 2 mos dtwp.

        I said adjuvants, not saline solution.

        Do you think it was a bad thing that mecury was removed from vaccines?

        • lilady says:

          Rose, you are all over the place, with your uninformed information. As soon as someone posts back at you to provide accurate information, you change the subject.

          You would do well to actually look up why adjuvants are in certain vaccines…and how adjuvants have a remarkable safety record for more than 70 years:

          http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/adjuvants.html

          You also need to know the history of the AAP recommendation to remove the ethyl mercury compound Thimerosal from multi-dose vials of vaccine…as well as the recent statement from the AAP in support of using Thimerosal in multi-dose vaccines:

          http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/1/152.full

          Ban on Thimerosal in Draft Treaty on Mercury: Why the AAP’s Position in 2012 Is So Important

          “….The 1999 recommendations were written as a prompt response to findings from a broad Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of the mercury content in biological products mandated by the Food and Drug Modernization Act of 1997. This review revealed that multiple vaccines used thimerosal (containing ethyl mercury) as a preservative in multidose vials and that the cumulative amount of mercury, when given according to the recommended immunization schedule at the time for young infants, could potentially exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines based on data for elemental, inorganic, or methyl mercury….”

          “….The priority to “first, do no harm” guides all USPHS and AAP recommendations. Given the complexity of the science involved in making guidelines, the polarity between vaccine advocates and those believing their children have been harmed, the media’s attraction to controversy, and, in retrospect, inadequate follow-up education about the issues to clinicians and the general public, it is not surprising that the steps taken left misunderstanding and anxiety in the United States and concerns in the global public health community.

          Since 1999, studies to better understand the pharmacology and toxicology of ethyl mercury have documented the profound differences between ethyl and methyl mercury. In addition, efforts to find evidence of harm to children from TCVs, used globally for >60 years, have failed to reveal any such damage. This is in sharp contrast to experience involving methyl mercury, a documented serious neurotoxin.

          Had the AAP (and, we suspect, the USPHS) known what research has revealed in the intervening 14 years, it is inconceivable to us that these organizations would have made the joint statement of July 7, 1999. The World Health Organization recommendation to delete the ban on thimerosal must be heeded or it will cause tremendous damage to current programs to protect all children from death and disability caused by vaccine-preventable diseases.”

          You are wrong about Dr. Offit and you are wrong about Orac. You linked to one of Orac’s posts, dating back to 2008. During the past six years, Orac has posted hundreds of articles about vaccines, the Omnibus hearings, the crank anti-vaccine anti-science blogs and parents’ anecdotal stories about “vaccine injuries”.

          You would do well to visit Orac’s blog and other science blogs, where doctors, researchers, nurses and individuals who are well-versed in the basics of immunology, virology, bacteriology and epidemiology post their comments.

          • Rose says:

            You are missing my point…which is, vaccines have NEVER been proven to be completely safe. Orac wouldn’t exist with anti-vaxxers…he’s a surgeon, but you wouldn’t know it. All he ever covers is what idiots anti-vaxxers are. You know as well as I his minions are just as predictable as his polar opposites, the stupid people like me who refuse to back down.

            Lilady, I don’t feel like I’m all over the place…but maybe I am.

          • Guy Chapman says:

            Rose: You are engaging in the Nirvana fallacy. No medical tratment is 100% safe. On the other hand, virtually all medical treatments offer a substantial positive risk/benefit ratio, and this is especially true of vaccines.

            In fact, vaccines are studies much more closely than most medicines, because they are given to children and they are used prophylactically, in people who are not actually ill at the time.

            They have saved many hundreds of millions of lives, and undoubtedly prevented long-term harm to tens of billions. Ask your local hospital where its iron lung ward is, or where the local tuberculosis hospice is located.

          • Nirvana fallacy…sounds appropriate enough for me.Kinda in the mystic vein I have been accused of before.

            (I couldn’t reply to your post, so I replied here. It is somewhere in the vicinity.)

          • Let me say it again…the only person who heard my concerns regarding the DTwP and shots overall, was my pediatrician. He had no delusions of perfection via statistics. My son was not a statistic to him.

            Thanks God for Dr. Cannibus (not his real name, but it sounds an awful lot like that.)

          • Guy Chapman says:

            The Nirvana fallacy is the error fo comparing real thinigs to unrealistic idealistic alternatives (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana_fallacy). Vaccines are real, vaccine preventable diseases are real, vaccine injuries are real, a perfect vaccine is a mythical construct.

            The simple fact is that the majority of vaccine injuries are either minor, or are not actually vaccine injuries at all (some antivaxers even claim that shaken baby syndrome is a vaccine injury, I have not the words to describe how repugnant that is). Vaccine preventable diseases, however, are very real and very dangerous. Pertussis kills, horribly, and where it doesn’t kill it can leave permanent damage.

            I wish that people who discuss vaccine harms would be as skeptical of the claims of antivaxers as they are of vaccines themselves.

          • Where are the studies of the long term harm of a hypotonic-hyporesponsive episode? Is there no scientific curiosity? Or just answers as to why it is of no concern.

            I don’t read anti-vax diatribes. You might be surprised to know, I try to keep up with what Left-Brain Right Brain has to say regarding vaccines, but it is often over my head.. Matt Carey recently noted some studies that are just now working on the questions many of us wanted answered years ago. They regard environmental exposures and autism. I was surprised and encouraged by his openness. http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2014/07/page/2/ One study noted there was a 3 fold increase of vaccine reactions among autistic youngsters and controls. Feel free to go through and nit pick it to show me where I am wrong, though. I’m used to it. I don’t really mind because I have moved on.

        • Guy Chapman says:

          Orac’s fame comes from outspoken advocacy of science. Antivaxers are only one of the groups who hate rational commentators like him.

          You can also read his work on the Science Based Medicine website, along with several other people who voluntarily suffer the venom of cranks in order to set the record straight on important issues in science and medicine.

  14. Rose says:

    I guess I didn’t finish…I am so tired and it’s been a great, but a long day.

    A child ‘could’ possible take 10,000 vaccines a day if they contained no preservatives (which many do) or no adjuvants (which ALL do.)

    • Chris says:

      He meant just the number of pathogenic agents, not vaccines. Perhaps this will make it more clear: Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides
      in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism
      .

      And the removal of thimerosal was done with very little data due to a “precautionary principle.” That was over ten years ago, so it is no longer part of the issue.

      Again, the issue is relative risk. If you wish to continue the discussion just come up with the PubMed indexed study from a qualified reputable researcher that the pertussis vaccines presently approved for use, DTaP and Tdap, cause more harm than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

      By qualified I mean they have the requisite education/background. No studies from lawyers, computer scientists or venture fund capitalists. By reputable I mean someone who has not been legally stripped of their right to practice medicine.

      For examples of studies see Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence.

  15. Rose says:

    The removal of thimerosal may be an issue, if the Somalia studies are of any importance. Correlation does not equal causation, but it is a fact that 100% of the Somali children had IQ’s lower than 70, while typically, it is never more than 50%. Lyn Redwood is a part of the IACC, and is instrumental in Safeminds, and she brought it up at the last meeting , January 14, I believe it was. She’s wiley, I like her a lot! Thimerosal is a known neurotoxant. To say that it is out of the loop of interest is an ignorant statement. We have no proof that autism isn’t caused by a neurotoxicity, and we’d better be getting on the ball with the Minnesota Somali population.

    I’ve been on Pub Med enough to know, that being on Pub Med is very little proof. Over 13,000 studies since I began in 1999, 600 answer the autism/vaccine search, if I remember. Over 1 billion dollars has been spent, according to ASAN, while autistics live on the street,and they still don’t know what causes autism, although they are sure it isn’t vaccines. Maybe it’s genes (genetic researchers need funding, too), maybe it’s living too close to the freeway, maybe it’s t.v., maybe it’s mother’s antibodies…What was the question?

    Oh, yes, for years it was underconnection of the brain, now it’s over connectivity. Or maybe not…or maybe its….

    Quoting something from Pub Med only indicates the present political climate of science, and very little about true autism. We have no “The Discovery of PKU by Dr. Asbjørn Følling: Norway, 1934.” PKU, interestingly , is also one known cause of autism.

  16. Rose says:

    Okay, I’ve thought it through…with my uniformed self and all.

    Regarding vaccines and their scientifically proven safety…it isn’t the adjuvant, we have 70 years of their safety. It isn’t the mercury….ethyl/methyl something. It isn’t the antigens…100,000 are safe in a day. It isn’t the saline solution…Maybe it’s some unknown item that survives in the labs, an uncleanliness factor, something so obscure we aren’t aware of it’s presence…it might explain the hot lots.

    So what the hell is it? Obviously we have a disconnect here.

    We know for certain, in medicine, one man’s cure is another man’s poison. Hmmm….Hannah Polling had a mitochondrial disease. I’ve got it!! The biggest threat to the vaccine safety gospel is defective kids.

    You know that children must be sacrificed for this war on disease. Why do you insist the parents lie down and take it? And to me, if we follow the paradigm of that other great medical breakthrough of the last century…science may lose this war. Bacteria and virus have a way of changing to fit the environment they find themselves in, in order to survive. They are, for some reason, a hell of a lot tougher than we are. It’s us against them. We have “super bugs” now that have mutated beyond the reach of any known antibiotic, and they live in our hospitals. I’ve read studies of vaccine diseases, the bugs that cause them also mutate. My memory says that vaccines are changed every 7 years because of this.

    Dr. Offit, somewhere, said that they will not go back to the dtwp. Should he be responsible, then, for the children that will die of whooping cough because we use the less effective dtap? Isn’t medicine choosing to use the less effective vaccine in order to save the program? I think, without a doubt, that they are. I can’t imagine why…other than the old pertussis vaccine held some factor that scared medicine away.

    Someone (maybe Seth)chose to write about a pertussis vaccine outbreak in California among Mexican immigrants. It was blamed, of course, on anti-vaxxers, but the AMA also chose to chastise doctors who refused to give out vaccines to those poor populations if they would lose money. That’s the AMA, not me.

    You make everything seem so cut and dried….here’s the proof and you are an idiot, Rose. But the truth seems much, much messier than we will allow in our rigid thinking. Sometimes zealots on both sides have to soften their stance. Offit admits safety was traded for efficacy http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUKBRE9700XK20130801 and doesn’t say we should go back, but that a better vaccine is needed.

    It’s a messy, messy war. We are all human, and medicine is a human enterprise. Science makes mistakes. And the gospel of Pub Med is entirely capable of error. But when you shut up the very parents whose children suffer as collateral damage, even if they are “defective”…you create a different virus, one of mistrust.

  17. Guy Chapman says:

    Rose, you need to recognise the provenance of some of the arguments in play. The claim that “we’re not against vaccines, we’re pro safe vaccines” is a staple of the antivax movement: the Nirvana fallacy, the idea that doing nothing is the better option until some hypothetically perfect vaccine is achieved. How exactly would we do that without trials?

    “Hot lots” is also a myth with roots in the antivax community: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm#Therearehot – remember, antivaxers are constantly quote-mining looking for factoids they can pluck out of context and misrepresent.

    You’ve discussed adjuvants and preservatives. These are also as you acknowledge long debunked as causes of harm. They are also weapons from the antivax locker: they are still used where the audience might be unsophisticated, but if the audience is aware they are rfuted, another argument is substituted.

    The arguments change, one thing never does: it’s *always* about the vaccines. The antivax community is as old as immunisation, and many of the arguments are no different from those used by Major T. J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove.

    There are rare adverse events, due to mundane things like anaphylactic reaction to substrates on which the pathogens are grown. Nobody denies it. In public health terms, these are the equivalent of the people who died because their seat belt stopped them being thrown clear of a car in a crash. No decision in life is free of risk. You may drive to work, that decision is inherently dangerous to others and possibly yourself. It’s not about “sacrifices” to the greater good, it’s about a transparently effective public health measure that is extensively scrutinised and monitored. Drivers die from airbag injury and seat belt failures in car crashes, and people get adverse reactions from immunisaiton, but these things are much less common than they were, due to endless development, and are massively less common than the equivalent risks without the intervention.

    Antivaxers are exactly equivalent to those who advocate the removal of airbags and seat belts fomr cars, but for some reason the average middle-class new-ager mother is much more likely to believe the antivaxers. I guess they have had longer to refine their spiel.

    In the case of pertussis the disease is less prevalent, making a weaker vaccine acceptable in some countries (the same applies to polio). It would be a mistake to generalise from this.

  18. Rose says:

    Egg allergy isn’t the only reaction. (Substrates, I’m just guessing. It’s the only thing I can think of.) There was some type of slime that closed down a vaccine manufacturing in England in about 10 years ago…it was the same pink stuff that grows in my bathtub in the south, from the description of it. It had contaminated the whole lot and there was a shortage of that vaccine. I can’t look up all this stuff to prove it to you. I just recall. I could be wrong. My long term memory is imprecise, but it beats the hell out of my short term memory, which is non-existent…

    I don’t care what the anti-vaxxers say. Yes, I did read it all in the past. Much of the studies brought about have been “selective” (as in Geiers…hey, they’re in Pub Med) and usually by people who had nothing to lose. Think of how much a well regarded scientist would have to lose if he allowed any derivation from the gospel of vaccines. He would no longer be employed or taken seriously.

    You know who the sole person of consequence to hear me was? My pediatrician. There is nothing we can do now. And what happened to Ben was not deadly. Though some was taken, MUCH remains. What I hate, maybe hate is too strong a word…what I intensely dislike is the dismissal of parent’s stories, as though they obviously are stupid. It was not a good day for a brain swelling.

    “Why” did Hannah Polling, a singular example, I’ll admit…react to the vaccine? Is there no curiosity regarding certain children having a propensity towards hyper-reaction, and to what? Why is it (vaccine) contraindicated when a child is sick, with say…the flu, when 100,000 antigens are dealt with daily, and sickness is a sign of a strong immune system? Why are unhealthy children with compromised immune systems more likely to die? Why are crib deaths more likely to occur from ages 2 months to 4 months? (Oh, I know, correlation does not equal causation unless you are a neurologist with MRI pictures of sections lighting up being equated with making money somehow. Wait, that was stupid…) Why are Hypotonic hyporesponsive episodes, equated almost exclusively with the DTP, and not considered “anaphalactic” ? Why haven’t we learned from pink disease that there can be a singular, emphatic reaction far outside the bounds of normalcy that is debilitating to select (one in 2500 kids) children? Jesus, have you ever looked at the pictures of their fried skin from an amount of mercury that was easily cleared by 99.96% of children? Why did they bother removing the teething powder for such a miniscule amount of reaction? This one is personal….with the equation of DTwP and HHE being singularly correlated, why is there only one long term study of neurological indicators, and only 16 studies when you enter HHE and vaccines? (I’m pretty sure those were the parameters.)

    My son’s going to be fine…he’s amazingly adaptive, and has found other ways to get around the LD he has. But I always listen to the mothers stories. We don’t know what we don’t know. It doesn’t hurt anyone to keep them in mind.

    I enter the discussion, not because I’m brilliant. Lilady will tell you I’m rather addled. I enter them because typically it’s standoff between the vaxxers and anti-vaxxers. Luckily, we’ve grown up enough that we don’t keep using the same, tired cliches on both sides. The wonderful/awful thing about epidemiology is it neglects the individual. And death from a vaccine preventable disease is far more likely to occur than harm from a vaccine, I’ll admit. It is a game of numbers. But when it is your child who is that .04%, as in Acrodynia, you don’t forget. Why is that such a sin?

    • Chris says:

      ““Why” did Hannah Polling, a singular example, I’ll admit…react to the vaccine? ”

      She had a genetic mitochondrial disorder. The condition makes it difficult when she has fevers, from both the vaccine and the disease.

      These things happen. It just happened that her symptoms were listed in Vaccine Injury Table, and her family received compensation. It is something that does not happen very often. End of story.

      Again, if you have any real evidence that the vaccines for pertussis cause more harm than either DTaP or Tdap, the present the PubMed indexed study by a qualified reputable researcher. Do not go off on other tangents. The teething powders had a vastly higher amount of mercury than any vaccine. It is not part of the issue.

      • Rose says:

        Chris…I think that is the most interesting part…the higher parts of mercury. Why did 99.2% of kids clear it with no problem?

        Mitochondrial disease, it ends up, is much more common than we had previously thought. My son’s HHE was on the vaccine injury table, too, in 1994. Yes, these things happen. But post dtwp, it disappeared. Must have been a hell of a bang to that w.

        • Chris says:

          That is not the issue, all vaccines on the present American pediatric schedule come with thimerosal free versions.

          The issue is relative safety. Kids with mitochondrial diseases are more likely to get injured from the higher fevers due to the actual diseases.

          Also, more recent research has found things that were thought to be from the whole cell DTP were from other genetic conditions, like Dravet Syndrome. So things were removed from the table when it is discovered that there was really no causation.

          Just provide the PubMed indexed study from a qualified reputable researcher that the DTaP and Tdap vaccines are more dangerous than diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Nothing else.

          • Rose says:

            I can’t, Chris, and you know that. You only reiterate my point that it is “defective children” who cause reactions to vaccines, totally ruining it for everybody else. Let’s dissect your words:
            “The issue is ~relative~ safety. Kids with mitochondrial diseases are ~more likely~ to get injured from the higher fevers due to the actual diseases. ” (my emphasis) So you are saying children are injured by vaccines. That is my point. How can we predict children who have reactions? Dravet Syndrome is not the only syndrome that is detected by severe reaction. Tuberous Sclerosis is often identified post 2 mos. vaccination because of severe reaction. If brain damage occurs because of the reaction, I don’t think you are being realistic to say there is really no cause.

            Dravet Syndrome was in the news. A young girl was treated with marijuana. It was an exceedingly hopeful response. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/07/health/charlotte-child-medical-marijuana/

          • Rose says:

            Chris, I’m sorry. I know you have skin in the game, and it’s probably painful for me to go on, because I appear to be exceedingly callous. I admire your tenacity, and you are right to be so.

            You are right in what you say.

          • Chris says:

            “You only reiterate my point that it is “defective children” who cause reactions to vaccines, totally ruining it for everybody else.”

            Like my son with a genetic heart condition, and a history of seizures.

            Yes, you have been callous. Thank you for your apology. It is much appreciated.

  19. Rose says:

    *I’d best change that…that would be 99.92% of children. Fifty percent of kids never used teething powders. When your child is part of the .08% who reacted to teething powders.

    Go to Leftbrain-rightbrain. I have never changed my tune. They’ve been very respectful to me there, for whatever reason.

  20. Guy Chapman says:

    Rose, nobody dismisses parents’ stories per se. We do dismiss the stories of people like Jenny McCarthy who has rasied vaccine victimhood to cult status on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. If you could persuade peopel like her to shut up, you would get a great deal more sympathy for the small number of genuine victims.

    • Rose says:

      Jenny McCarthy found a way to get herself out there and appear a hero at the same time. There is crap the anti-vaxxers do to their children that I would never come close to considering. I think they should treat themselves, first, with the same concoctions they give their kids. I’m serious about that. If they bow out, that would tell one a lot.

      I don’t know if anybody gets my point, and I do have one…I have to go before I get ridiculous or in trouble.

      • Guy Chapman says:

        Jenny McCarthy has done vast damage to children. Aside from the harm caused by her anti vaccination propaganda she has legitimised a whole raft of harmful quack treatments for autism, including chelation and “biomedical” treatments.

        If your mechanism for separating good from bad does not place McCarthy solidly in the bad box, then it is seriously deficient.

  21. Laura Collins says:

    I have 3 kids and none of them are vaccinated. I am one of the survivors of the above vacine. In 1970 following doctor recomendation my parents had me vaccinated with the dpt shot. Within a couple hours I was screaming turning purple and swelling up. My parents called the paramedics which found I had 106º temperature and packed me in basin of ice for a emergency ambulance ride to mount sinia medical in milwaukee wisconsin. By the time I got to the hospital I had gone in to convultions and probably wouldn’t have lived if it wasn’t one of the best medical facilities at that time. I was a extremely healthy baby at almost 10lbs at birth the doctor thought is possibly what helped me survive with no apparent lasting damage. After my parents telling me this is what happened and living my whole life unvaccinated I would never have my own children vaccinated.

    • Guy Chapman says:

      I’m afraid such arguments are the functional equialent of the man who asserts that he was only saved in a crash because he was not wearing a seat belt, so was thrown clear. Even if it’s true, and many of the stories of vaccine injury turn out not to have been caused by the vaccine, the public health benefits are well established, the risks of the disease rather high, and of course the vaccines have improved over time as has the medical community’s ability to recognise and effectively deal with adverse events.

      Your story si sad, but to rely on it as an argument against vaccination would be a grave error. Your children are at risk of a host of terrible diseases which can leave them blind, deaf, paralysed or even dead.

    • Chris says:

      Be sure to thank your responsible neighbors who vaccinate. They are protecting your children by bolstering your area’s community immunity.

      Also, the DTP vaccine has been replaced by the DTaP vaccine.

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