Tag Archives: Vaccinations

Medical Examiner Says Girl’s Death Not Caused by HPV Vaccination

A Milwaukee medical examiner has found that an antihistamine overdose, not a reaction to the HPV vaccine, caused the tragic death of a 12 year old girl there last June.

The girl’s mother, Rebecca Prohaska, told the news media in early August that she believed her daughter may have had an allergic reaction to the human papillomavirus vaccine, also known as HPV, about six hours after the vaccine was administered in a doctor’s office.

The mother’s speculation was reported by several television stations and the Journal Sentinel, and was picked up by opponents of childhood vaccinations across the country as inaccurate evidence that the vaccine can kill.

The HPV vaccine, given in three doses starting at age 11 or 12, is the only vaccine currently available to prevent any type of cancer. HPV vaccination is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

State Farm Drops Ads Starring Anti-Vaccine Comedian Rob Schneider

After a torrent of online criticism from pro-science activists, State Farm has dropped a series of ads featuring noted anti-vaccine proponent Rob Schneider. PR Week reports:

State Farm has pulled an ad featuring anti-vaccine activist Rob Schneider after a social media campaign urged the insurance company to end its affiliation with the actor.

Social media pages Food HunkScience Babe, and Chow Babe, all of which refute pseudoscience claims, started the anti-Schneider campaign last week, questioning how a company that sells insurance could hire a celebrity spokesman so openly against vaccinations.

The activists have encouraged consumers with State Farm policies to get involved by contacting their agents and telling them that “someone who publicly states dangerous opinions should not be a spokesperson for a health insurance company.”

Schneider has long supported the anti-vaccine cause, including fighting against California bill AB 2109, which made obtaining a vaccine exemption more difficult—by requiring consultation with an actual medical professional. He has also lent his voice to the Canary Party, an anti-vaccine organization whose stunningly misinformed propaganda video, narrated by Schneider, was screened at a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill last year.

Paul Offit on the Anti-Vaccine Epidemic

Pediatrician Paul A. Offit, winner of the CFI/CSI 2013 Balles Award in Critical Thinking, took to the Wall Street Journal today to warn of the current anti-vaccination epidemic and surging diseases that have resulted:

We simply don’t fear these diseases anymore. My parents’ generation—children of the 1920s and 1930s—needed no convincing to vaccinate their children. They saw that whooping cough could kill as many as 8,000 babies a year. You didn’t have to convince my generation—children of the 1950s and 1960s—to vaccinate our children. We had many of these diseases, like measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox. But young parents today don’t see the effects of vaccine-preventable diseases and they didn’t grow up with them. For them, vaccination has become an act of faith.

Perhaps most upsetting was a recent study out of Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. Researchers wanted to see whether the whooping cough epidemic of 2012 had inspired more people to vaccinate their children. So they studied rates of whooping cough immunization before, during and after the epidemic. No difference. One can only conclude that the outbreak hadn’t been large enough or frightening enough to change behavior—that not enough children had died.

Because we’re unwilling to learn from history, we are starting to relive it. And children are the victims of our ignorance.


Anti-Vaccination Beliefs Are Contagious Like a Disease

Anti-vaccination beliefs are contagious like a disease, argues Malia Jones and Alison Buttenheim in the Washington Post:

How do these clusters of exempted kids form? We think that the idea of vaccines being unsafe or ineffective or unnecessary spreads—like a disease itself—from person to person within social networks.  Parents talk to their friends, other parents at their child’s school, and to their neighbors.  Normal social processes produce clusters of vaccine refusers in the social landscape.  When it’s time to enroll in school, like-minded parents are drawn to certain schools—and this is especially pronounced when parents have the resources to be choosy about their child’s education.  Soon, there are schools and communities where vaccine refusal is not an anomaly; it is the norm.


“Measles is Back: A Mother’s Warning”

Retelling the story of her own son’s near death from measles encephalitis in the Los Angeles Times, Margaret Harmon gives a warning:

It’s highly likely that the few doctors fueling the anti-vaccine movement — bucking the vast majority of their peers — have never seen a case of measles encephalitis. They haven’t had to, thanks to those who vaccinate. But do parents who choose not to vaccinate understand that they may be giving deadly diseases the chance to regain footholds? And it won’t just be their children who pay the price. In epidemics, even vaccinated children can fall ill. And outbreaks give bacteria and viruses the chance to evolve to beat vaccines and treatments.

In the first eight months of this year, there were 18 measles outbreaks in the United States and nearly 600 cases of measles. That’s nearly three times more cases than in any year since 2001, according to statistics kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When I read about a child fighting measles here — where we once were safe — I feel that heartbreaking weight of a beautiful brown-eyed toddler not breathing, blue, on my lap.