Apr 28 2010

The Vaccine Wars

Last night Frontline aired a show called The Vaccine Wars. You can watch the full episode online here. Overall, they did a good job of representing the current state of the science, and the anti-scientific nature of the anti-vaccine movement.

The overall theme of the piece was that anti-vaccine parents are irresponsible and go against the science. In fact, their view are immune to science, as they dismiss the evidence which contradicts their position, and constantly shift the goalposts when evidence goes against a link between vaccines and autism.

The piece did cut some corners on details, but probably will only be noticed by someone steeped in the anti-vaccine movement.

Of course, the anti-vaccinationists have started their whining. To be fair, we complain when journalists do a terrible job of reporting science, which can be interpreted as taking an editorial position with which we disagree. But then it is our job to demonstrate that they got the science wrong. Handley and Gordon are just complaining that their point of view was not catered to.

Gordon is complaining on (of course) the Huffington Post that his interview was not used. Welcome to the club. Any expert who makes themselves available to journalists will at time experience taking time to provide a great deal of information, or to give a long interview, and then have it end up completely on the edit room floor. Or, at times they will just use a quote or two, but miss your main points.

I am not defending this – I think it mostly reflects the fact that journalists and producers write their story before they investigate, and then search for quotes to plug into their narrative. But at other times, a serious journalist will gather a great deal of information, and then decide what the story is, which means some points of view will be left out.

It is heartening to see that those of us who have been defending vaccines from their ideological and pseudoscientific opponents are getting mainstream media attention.

See the show for yourself – it’s worth the hour.

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38 responses so far

38 Responses to “The Vaccine Wars”

  1. RickKon 28 Apr 2010 at 10:26 am

    Congrats on getting “Science Based Medicine” a quick product placement. It scrolled by quickly, but was easily visible.

  2. MolBioKYon 28 Apr 2010 at 11:39 am

    I happened to catch this and thought Paul Offit did a great job of explaining the state of the scientific views on the matter. Overall a pretty good piece. However, I do feel that the antivaccine crowd, as usual, seemed to have the loudest voice in their “green our vaccines” shirts and McCarthy claiming that as scientistss we’re not doing any of the necessary research.

  3. ccbowerson 28 Apr 2010 at 11:47 am

    The complaints against journalism in this case are unfounded. It is not the job of journalist to create a balanced story… it is their job to be as accurate and factual as possible. False balance is huge problem in mainstream journalism. In an attempt to appear impartial, it is common to give 2 sides to a story, even if one side is ridiculous, and say “you decide.” That is not journalism, that is collection, editing and regurgitation. Journalism should be biased towards the truth and reality.

  4. mossfaceon 28 Apr 2010 at 1:29 pm

    At one point a pro-vaccine researcher (I don’t recall who) complained that the anti-vaxx movement moves the goalposts when a link is disproved. I felt that particular comment wasn’t particularly well thought out.

    Specifically, hypotheses are formulated and often disproved. When a hypothesis is disproved, it is often reformulated and study continues. It’s the iterative nature of science, and quite a powerful mechanism. With autism, causal links with both the MMR vaccine and thimerosal usage have been pretty convincingly disproven, so the corresponding hypotheses can probably be safely discarded.

    So the question I have is this: what is the difference between reformulating a hypothesis based upon new information, and moving the goalposts?

  5. HHCon 28 Apr 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I agree with bioethicist Art Caplan regarding society and parental
    control. I had a male parent who believed that vaccines were evil. Born in 1918, he got a key vaccination which scarred over and this mark left an angry, emotional scar in his character. When I was required to be vaccinated for grammar school, I was made to stay home because my parent had not had me vaccinated as this required a “costly” trip to the doctor. He was enraged over the fact that the school required this vaccination. He was physically abusive for the weeks I stayed home until he could earn the money as required by the school. I was relieved to be vaccinated, and grateful that educators stepped into my abusive situation.

  6. superdaveon 28 Apr 2010 at 3:30 pm

    @mossface

    The difference is admitting your first hypothesis was wrong instead of just pretending it never existed.

  7. jonny_ehon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:00 pm

    @mossface

    It also requires not jumping to conclusions based on a hypothesis being true. The anti-vaxxers had a hypothesis that thimerasol caused autism, their conclusion was that vaccines are dangerous, and told everyone so.

    They refuse to alter this conclusion despite hypothesis after hypothesis being disproven and are constantly generating new hypotheses based on this conclusion.

  8. eeanon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:36 pm

    This is what journalism looks like. Frontline has consistently some of the best journalism on television, probably because it really does take an hour or more to tell the whole story. And they aren’t afraid of some controversy. I think a MSM outlet would try to make the story more ‘balanced’, instead of like Frontline presenting the evidence and having a fairly clear conclusion based on it.

  9. ccbowerson 28 Apr 2010 at 4:38 pm

    “…what is the difference between reformulating a hypothesis based upon new information, and moving the goalposts?

    The difference is whether or not there is a continuity of logic and plausibility between your original theory and reformulation (i.e. that the new information informs your original hypothesis and reformulation logically progresses from that) , or if the person is just reaching for a new theory to support their ideology.

    In the antivaccination ideology, the only requirement for a supporting theory is that it is antivaccine, and any theory will do whether or not there is a factual basis for it. It is moving the goal post since it starts with the idea that vaccines and/or the schedules are problematic for reason X, and any evidence that shows reason X is not a problem results in a new theory that (reason Y) which may not have any logical or factual connection from the data.

  10. eeanon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:38 pm

    @MolBioKY: you didn’t notice that as soon as McCarthy said that the scientists weren’t doing any research, Frontline immediately went on to show all the research thats been going on? It was pretty damning.

  11. Oracon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Yeah, my nits to pick about the show aside, I loved that part. It was perfect.

  12. RickKon 28 Apr 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I’d never heard much about Jenny McCarthy’s claims about Evan. It was interesting to note on the Frontline piece that it was “several weeks” after his vaccine that he showed signs of autism. But Jenny just knew it was the vaccines.

    Yep, gotta love those mommy instincts.

  13. lizditzon 28 Apr 2010 at 5:10 pm

    RickK — there could be a whole hour-plus documentary on Jenny’s changing story on Evan’s diagnosis and treatment and subsequent behavior. The stories have changed many times.

    Jenny McCarthy is also complaining about the Frontline “slant”

    When the producers of PBS’s Frontline approached me to be interviewed for their new documentary “The Vaccine War,” I accepted with a simple condition: doctors and scientists on our side of the vaccine-autism debate needed to have a voice, too.

    Prior to agreeing to the interview, Frontline sent us this email:

    “Frontline will carry out a detailed and even-handed investigation including voices from all sides of the controversy including parents, activists, physicians, scientists, lawyers, politicians and vaccine manufacturers.”

    I’ve learned to be wary of media who try to simplify the vaccine-autism debate into a “Parents vs. the Science” spin, so I went further and agreed to do the interview only if Dr. Jay Gordon, a well-known pediatrician here in Los Angeles, sat beside me. (Dr. Jay also sat for his own two hour interview.)

    For those who’ve watched the show, you know that the Frontline producers broke their promise and presented our entire community’s position through my interview and just two other parents — Barbara Loe Fisher and J.B. Handley.

    Where are the doctors and scientists who support our community and support the idea that vaccines may be a trigger for autism? In Frontline’s world, they don’t exist.

    Imagine how much more credible the countless stories of children regressing into autism after vaccine appointments would be if a doctor were saying the same thing.

    There’s more. According to Jenny, Fronline erred by leaving out

    1. The “dozens of scientists” who support the position that vaccines cause regressive autism
    2. Geraldine Dawson or Autism Speaks, who might support the vaccine-autism hypothesis
    3. Denmark’s autism rate is lower because they vaccinate less
    4. The inquities of Poul Thorsen
    5. The Wakefield vaccinated vs. unvaccinated monkey study

    and so on, including the usual Offit smears.

    Closing quote:

    Parents, when people are blaming a problem on the availability of information — like China trying to keep their population in the dark — you know there’s a bigger problem, and another side to the story — a side that Frontline knowingly chose not to share.

    The quote speaks for itself.

    To my mind, one of the elements Frontline left out was talking to parents of children with autism and autistic adults who reject the vaccine hypothesis. That to me would have made the presentation stronger.

  14. MolBioKYon 28 Apr 2010 at 6:10 pm

    @eean

    Well that just made for a good laugh! You’re right I didn’t happen to catch that. brilliant

  15. taustinon 28 Apr 2010 at 6:20 pm

    @mossface

    A new hypothesis is based on new data. A moving goalpost protects a desire you’ve had all along.

  16. mossfaceon 28 Apr 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the input, guys, the idea of cobbling together whatever hypothesis may support the foregone conclusion makes a lot of sense as a definition of moving the goalposts. That said, insofar as activists are requesting that more research be done into the causes of autism, I support them 100%. I even support spending effort looking into the possible negative side effects of vaccines, and exploring other variables in order to keep crossing stuff off the list of possible causes. I have full confidence that one day we’ll have a satisfactory understanding of autism, but obviously we have to follow the evidence to the conclusion.

    Anyway, I think it was a fine piece of journalism, and was the right kind of balanced. Anti-vaxxers had their say, and science had its say, and we were lead gracefully to the logical conclusion that the scientific argument had merit while the anti-vaxx argument could be largely dismissed.

  17. ChrisHon 28 Apr 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Several weeks?! Apparently Ms. McCarthy’s son was at least two years old when he had his horrible seizures (and I would be the last to belittle that experience, having had my son hospitalized for seizures).

    The MMR vaccine is given at around 12 to 18 months. The seizure would have had to be at least six months later.

    mossface, you should listen to the Episode 8 and 9 of this podcast:
    http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/fbbpodcast/

    One features Dr. Paul Offit, and the other has Dr. David Gorski (who has fun discussing the various evil ingredients that are listed in the vaccines).

  18. Draalon 28 Apr 2010 at 7:01 pm

    One thing struck me as interesting near then end of the program. The surveys into why parents choose not to vaccinate was presented as a predominantly the mother’s choice. The mother is the primary person involved in the early health related interventions of an infant. She has more direct contact with health care personnel including pediatricians; presumably, the mother makes more of the decisions for the child’s care than the father.

    If you took a survey of both parents, would the percentages of fathers agree or disagree to vaccinate their children be the same, close or vastly different from mothers?

  19. BKseaon 28 Apr 2010 at 7:54 pm

    My favorite moving goalpost is in the “autism as mercury poisoning” camp. They came to suspect mercury because someone thought they saw a link between autism and vaccines and vaccines contained thimerosal and thimerosal contains mercury. When thimerosal went away and there was no impact on autism, it should lead to them to reject mercury as a cause. Instead they went looking for another source of mercury. It never occured to them to ask why their goalposts were now sitting in the middle of a baseball diamond.

  20. ccbowerson 28 Apr 2010 at 11:50 pm

    “That said, insofar as activists are requesting that more research be done into the causes of autism, I support them 100%. I even support spending effort looking into the possible negative side effects of vaccines, and exploring other variables in order to keep crossing stuff off the list of possible causes.”

    The problem with this blanket support of “more research is needed” is the fact that research dollars are limited. Any dollars going towards studies that are looking at vaccines as a contributor to autism are likely taking away dollars that could be looking at more scientifically promising research on autism.

    There have already been too many studies showing there is no relationship between autism and vaccines, not to mention that there is no reason to believe that there is such a relationship. More studies looking at genetic and prenatal factors on autism are needed since there have already been studies demonstrating links in these areas.

    So there is harm in calling for more research into an area if research in that area is not needed, and it results in dollars flowing away from more promising reasearch.

  21. Lucianon 29 Apr 2010 at 7:59 am

    Watching the program I couldn’t help but laugh a little when I saw the woman giving birth in the first few minutes. To me the emotion on her face didn’t fit the situation. It got me thinking about the issue of autism from a different angle, probably not an original one. Lately the focus has obviously been vaccines as a possible link to autism, and I agree that research into the claim should continue. The question that came to me, what are the negative long-term effects, if any, the baby of a woman who recieves an epidural can suffer? Possibly some percentage of newborns whose mother recieved an epidural are more susceptible to neurobehavioral disorder and could fall on the autism spectrum….?

    Another thought. If the parents are seeing this link, “My child went in and recieved 6 innoculations in one day, and then we lost him/her.” There’s probably a certain time in development when the child is scheduled for these vaccines. This, i’m assuming, is relatively universal. Could the link between vaccine (specifically mmr as their claim) and autism be falsely observed and the true connection is When the autistism syptoms initially occured? A high number of parents believe they are seeing a correlation. Maybe they’re just going with the hype, but maybe they’re is something to what they’re observing but they’ve got the causal part wrong…?
    Any thoughts?
    -R.C.

  22. BillyJoe7on 29 Apr 2010 at 8:26 am

    Lucian,

    You need to understand two things:
    - the causes of autism are prenatal.
    - autism is not due to brain injury.

    It is not the case that the brain of a child with autism shows destructive changes, but rather that the structure of the brain of a child with autism is different from that of a child without autism. In other words:

    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder.

  23. ccbowerson 29 Apr 2010 at 8:31 am

    “I agree that research into the claim should continue.”

    Your forgot the word “not.” There have already been too many studies, and all of them fail to show any link. How much money should be poured into a debunked theory based upon one fraudulant study which has been retracted for made up data and questionable ethics? Any more studies on the topic approach what I see as unethical, depending on the type of study done. There are real unanswered questions, and these need attention.

    ” but maybe they’re is something to what they’re observing but they’ve got the causal part wrong”

    Well it is very rare that people are accurate about the timing of when symptoms appear. Autism aside: It is not uncommon for people to describe symptoms that they say happened virtually overnight when the symptoms of what they are describing are known to be insidious (occur gradually). ‘This 5 pound tumor wasn’t there yesterday!’

    This is the inaccuracy of people’s observations. Vaccines are given pretty much every few months during the first couple years of life, and that any early diagnosis of autism would likely be near a vaccination office visit. The human brain is looking for causes and effects and (as accurate as it usually is) in certain areas it is easily fooled.

  24. Esattezzaon 29 Apr 2010 at 10:55 am

    “Could the link between vaccine (specifically mmr as their claim) and autism be falsely observed and the true connection is When the autistism syptoms initially occured? A high number of parents believe they are seeing a correlation. Maybe they’re just going with the hype, but maybe they’re is something to what they’re observing but they’ve got the causal part wrong…?”

    RC, you’ll notice above that ccbowers commented it’s rare that parents are right about the timing of autism onset. Proof of that is discussed here: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3908.

    However, there is truth in what you say as well. Parents aren’t just simply “going with the hype” (though that is probably why many point specifically to vaccines). They actually DO see a change in their child around the time the MMR is given. Though, quotes like “my child got vaccinated and the light left his eyes” are almost certainly (unintentional) exaggerations. There is discussion above about Jenny McCarthy’s changing story of the timing of Evan’s first seizure.

    Parents who blame vaccines typically point to a first seizure or some other major anecdote that made them realize that their child was not the same after vaccination. The problem is that the period after MMR is given is a time of many major developmental benchmarks that children with autism start missing. When children fail to meet those benchmarks (or have a seizure at that age) an alarm sounds in parents heads and they think to themselves “what’s happened since the last benchmark that my child met? – ah! the MMR vaccine!” Really, this is just the natural progression of a developmental disorder. There is no immediate causal factor, these children were on that path all along, that is just the age where they begin to differ drastically enough from neurotypical children that parents see the difference.

  25. Calli Arcaleon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:02 am

    Lucian:

    The question that came to me, what are the negative long-term effects, if any, the baby of a woman who recieves an epidural can suffer? Possibly some percentage of newborns whose mother recieved an epidural are more susceptible to neurobehavioral disorder and could fall on the autism spectrum….?

    Epidural anesthesia is a mild local anesthestic. It impairs signaling through the lower spine, the point of which is to interfere with pain signals on their way to the brain. The great thing about it is that it has no systemic effects (assuming mom’s not allergic to it or has other anesthesia issues) and the dose can be adjusted so that it is just enough to relieve the pain without completely eliminating sensation.

    For more serious pain, or for having a c-section while conscious (and now also used for many other surgeries), one can get a spinal block. This is similar to an epidural in principle, but goes further — you end up paralyzed below the waist for a few hours, and completely unable to feel anything besides some pressure. (I could feel them rooting around inside me during my last c-section, sort of. But there was no pain, and the sensations were very indistinct.)

    Both of these are unlikely to have any direct affect on the baby. The anesthetic doesn’t enter the bloodstream. This is in stark contrast to the other options: anti-inflammatory drugs, opiates, sedatives, and general anesthesia. If the mother is under general anesthesia for a c-section, the baby often comes out unconscious, which is less than ideal. (Exception: some emergency c-sections are done so quickly the baby doesn’t have time to pick up much of the anesthetic; my first baby, born by emergency c-section, came out pink and screaming! Hey! Turn off those lights! I was sleeping!)

    So I think it’s highly unlikely that local anesthesia during labor can directly affect a child’s neurodevelopment. That’s not to say it’s without risks, nor that it should be used lightly. They do restrict a woman’s movement during labor; once an epidural is started, she is bedbound. That may or may not be a problem. Also, a woman can be allergic to the anesthetic. Most significantly, it involves a lumbar puncture, which should never be approached casually. You can get a blinding headache that won’t respond to any medication and lasts for days. In extremely rare cases, the anesthesiologist can make a mistake and injure the spinal cord, and of course infection in this case would be particularly nasty. Those risks are small, but real, though they largely pertain to the mother, not the child.

  26. Calli Arcaleon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:13 am

    Oops, hit “submit” before I was done.

    Another thought. If the parents are seeing this link, “My child went in and recieved 6 innoculations in one day, and then we lost him/her.” There’s probably a certain time in development when the child is scheduled for these vaccines. This, i’m assuming, is relatively universal. Could the link between vaccine (specifically mmr as their claim) and autism be falsely observed and the true connection is When the autistism syptoms initially occured?

    That is very plausible, and I also think it’s likely this is why many people blame vaccines.

    Autism can be diagnosed at many ages, but it is most commonly recognized around 2 or 3 years of age, when the child fails to meet certain developmental milestones. (If not caught then, it’s usually caught at age 5 or 6, when the kid enters the school system.) Not coincidentally, this is also when many public school districts screen for early intervention, and many autistic kids will first be noticed through this process. Kids do receive a lot of vaccinations in this time period, enough that it’s almost inevitable that they will have *something* bad happen within a few months of a vaccination.

    BTW, I don’t think anyone supports six inoculations in one day. That’s just too much poking for a kid to tolerate. But many vaccines are polyvalent, meaning they have several things rolled into one shot. You get measles, mumps, and rubella in a single shot, for instance.

  27. Esattezzaon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:23 am

    Also, RC, what studies SPECIFICALLY do you think should continue into vaccines? I’m of the opinion that MMR and thimerosal should be firmly put down. I’m not so sure, however, that research should stop completely. Yes, I know all the arguments about taking funding away from fruitful areas of research, which is why I hesitate. However, you hear SO many stories from parents about: “as soon as my child got this shot, he had a seizure/had a severe allergic reaction and wouldn’t stop screaming/became unresponsive for days”. Now, some of these stories are exaggerated, others are true, but purely coincidence, others (allergic reactions especially) may actually be causal, but we don’t know the prognosis of such an event.

    We do know that some children are allergic to certain vaccine components (ie: avian proteins, gelatin). I just feel like we should look into that aspect further and find the genetic risk factors and prognosis for such an event so it can be avoided, if warranted (and also so the insurance companies will pay to use a more expensive alternative that does not contain the aggravating ingredient). When we do, we may actually find that in small percent of autism cases, an adverse reaction to a vaccine aggravated the autistic symptoms, maybe even “triggering” autism in that the symptoms only then became pronounced enough for diagnosis. I find it hard to believe that there will be a truly causal link, though the autoimmune hypothesis is an interesting one that I haven’t yet managed to wrap my head around. Anyone out there an immunologist?

  28. Esattezzaon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:34 am

    “BTW, I don’t think anyone supports six inoculations in one day. That’s just too much poking for a kid to tolerate. But many vaccines are polyvalent, meaning they have several things rolled into one shot. You get measles, mumps, and rubella in a single shot, for instance.”

    Calli, the current CDC recommended schedule has rotavirus, dtp, Hib, pneumococcal, and polio all at 2 months, then again at 4. These are all separate vaccines. Also, HepB can also be given at 2 months. Maybe no one supports it in principle, but in practice kids ARE getting 5-6 shots in one day. Granted, this probably just means that they’ll be a bit grumpy without any lasting effects, but I thought I should point it out before some anti-vaxer nails you for being uninformed and naively assuming the health care industry is benevolent.

  29. Lucianon 29 Apr 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Esattezza, thanks for the link. I admittedly don’t know much about the topic, (maybe i should stay out of it untill i do my research) but i appreciate the lack of derision from all of you. To answer your question, i didn’t put much thought into what I SPECIFICALLY meant. After rereading my post I disagree with myself on that. There isn’t any reason to investigate the claims to a link between vaccines and autism, as i had said. I suppose what i meant to say is what you and ccbowers are getting at, that there are unaswered questions regarding autism that need to be look at. poorly thought-out fillers, my bad.

    ccbowers-Esattezza already helped me out the 6 shots in one day bit, but I was just roughly quoting the man from the program, the one who said “f*ck.”

    calli-Good information. The epidural idea was a total shot in the dark hypothesis. I may have seen one too many documentaries promoting the natural childbirth movement.

    Thanks for your replies, I’ll eventually have something interesting to add to these conversations.

  30. Simiankolyaon 29 Apr 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Kinda funny that they focus on Ashland, Oregon. I’m in a certain Shakespearean heavy metal band [www.metalshakespeare.com] and we’ve played a couple shows there, since their Shakespeare festival makes for a great crowd.

    Anyways, here’s a little personal anecdote:

    I remember being warned that “Ashland hippies are a breed unto themselves”, and this was fully confirmed when, during the party after one of our shows, I ended up stuck in a conversation with a girl who was going on and on about how the only solution to all the world’s problems was to completely get rid of money.

    Now, while I’m sure this doesn’t characterize everyone in Ashland, or everyone at Southern Oregon University (the school in that town), that little experience immediately came to mind when I heard in that Frontline documentary that Ashland has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

    I really hate to be throwing stereotypes around, but time and again I’ve run into people, especially in college towns, who condemn both science and capitalism as being inherently evil, tools of “The Man”. How does one win over people like that? Is it best to just cynically ignore such foolery, or is it better to keep arguing, thus risking coming across as a bigot? Is this a recent symptom of rampant post-modernism in our universities, or has this been happening for decades?

  31. Esattezzaon 29 Apr 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Lucian, you may not think you have anything important to add to the conversation, but the very fact that you can go from saying “I agree that research into the claim should continue”, be presented with evidence, and change your mind upon reading that evidence is the reason we all bother to comment on issues like this in the fist place. Thank you.

  32. ChrisHon 29 Apr 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Esattezza:

    Parents who blame vaccines typically point to a first seizure or some other major anecdote that made them realize that their child was not the same after vaccination.

    Well, my first child spent his first week in the hospital due to seizures. So vaccines were not part of the equation.

    He went on medication, but was weaned from the meds in a year. Then he had a another seizure just a few weeks later!

    Ten years later when there was chatter on the online disability discussion group about the MMR causing problems due to Wakefield’s Lancet paper. So I took a look at his vaccine record, and he had had the MMR only two weeks before the seizure. If it wasn’t for the previous history, I could have connected his last seizure to the vaccine. But there is more to the story.

    The reason he had the seizure was because he was dehydrated from a rotavirus infection, and an ear infection. Kind of a double whammy. He was given IV fluids in the ER, antibiotics for the ear infection… along with more follow visits to the family doctor and the neurologist (including more EEGs… that stuff they use to put the contacts on is terrible to get out of a toddler’s hair).

    Sometimes I think that some parents misremember many of the details. I think you would have to be very obsessive to write down every milestone, tick and whatever when you have a young child. Much of the first few years of kids is a blur (I’m sorting through pictures of the kids when they were small, and I am coming up blank on names of people and their kids!).

  33. Esattezzaon 29 Apr 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Chris, yeah, I was listening to an interview Dr. Gorski gave to the Beyond Belief podcast where he told a story about how his wife was drawing up a child’s first vaccine into the syringe and the child had a seizure. If she’d worked just a little faster and given the shot 2 minutes sooner, that child’s seizure would almost certainly have been blamed on the vaccine (Even I’d have trouble believing it was coincidence.)

  34. ChrisHon 30 Apr 2010 at 12:05 am

    Actually, that is Dr. Offit’s story.

    But I can understand if you listened to both on the same day. just like I did… though I heard the story before on a Books and Ideas podcast a while ago.

  35. Esattezzaon 30 Apr 2010 at 11:01 am

    haha, yup, exactly what I did. my apologies

  36. BillyJoe7on 30 Apr 2010 at 5:54 pm

    Esattezza,

    “Calli, the current CDC recommended schedule has rotavirus, dtp, Hib, pneumococcal, and polio all at 2 months, then again at 4. These are all separate vaccines. Also, HepB can also be given at 2 months. Maybe no one supports it in principle, but in practice kids ARE getting 5-6 shots in one day.”

    I don’t know the schedule in America, but in Australia a child only ever gets three shots maximum and that’s only at 12 months of age.

    AS the schedule was expanded, various vaccines were combined so that at no time did they recieve more than three shots:
    - HIB was combined with HepB as COMVAX (2 vaccines)
    - IPOL was combined with DTP as DTP-IPOL (4 vaccines)
    - COMVAX was combined with DTP-IPOL as INFANRIX-HEXA (6 vaccines)

    So, at 2, 4,and 6 months children are now given IFANRIX-HEXA, PREVENAR, and ROTARIX, which amounts to two shots and one oral vaccine.

    The only time they get three shots is a 12 months when they get MMR, COMVAX, and NeisVacC (meningitis)

  37. Calli Arcaleon 11 May 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Esattezza:

    Calli, the current CDC recommended schedule has rotavirus, dtp, Hib, pneumococcal, and polio all at 2 months, then again at 4. These are all separate vaccines. Also, HepB can also be given at 2 months. Maybe no one supports it in principle, but in practice kids ARE getting 5-6 shots in one day. Granted, this probably just means that they’ll be a bit grumpy without any lasting effects, but I thought I should point it out before some anti-vaxer nails you for being uninformed and naively assuming the health care industry is benevolent.

    No, these are not neccesarily all separate vaccines; don’t assume that because a vaccine gets its own column, it means you’ll be getting it individually. You *can*, but you don’t have to. I’m looking at my daughter’s records right now; the most she ever got in one day was four vaccines, one of which was the rotavirus vaccine, which isn’t a shot (it’s oral). At her three-month visit, she got Pediarix (DTap-HepB-IPV), PedvaxHIB (HIB), Prevnar 7 (7-valent pneumococcal conjugate), and ROTATEQ (oral rotavirus vaccine). That covers the maximum that the CDC schedule calls for with just three needle sticks and one oral dose.

    The anti-vaxxers will tend to look at the theoretical maximum and try to sell it as if the CDC is recommending each of these antigens in a separate vaccine, which is highly disingenuous. Truth is, a lot of these vaccines are actually combined in common practice, even though the CDC lists some of them separately. You can separate them out if you want, but that’s not generally what doctors will recommend unless you have some special circumstances.

  38. topstepon 10 Jun 2010 at 9:26 am

    I enjoyed the bits where the anti-vaxxers were saying “All we are saying is, ‘Let’s do some studies.’” (Only to have the documentary makers then provide 20 mins of detailed studies from Denmark and elsewhere show no link between vaccines and autism.)

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