A small shot of vaccination sanity

By Phil Plait | August 13, 2009 5:15 pm
Mile High Mommas logo

Mile High Mommas — a group blog by moms in the Denver area — has up a guest-blogged post by local pediatrician Dr. Steve Perry, who has a very sane and clear view about vaccinations. It’s refreshing thing to see on the web: reason! Sanity! Evidence based analysis!

Imagine that. What a shot in the arm.

Tip o’ the syringe to the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition. And they’re on Twitter, too!

Comments (28)

  1. Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm. :-)

  2. fred edison

    Indeed, good Dr. Perry. They vaccinate to save lives, not to take lives. Why in the universe can’t the anti-vaxxers get this major and obvious fact? Stop the insanity of anti-vaxxers who resist and refuse vaccinations for themselves and their kids. Start the sanity of protecting your children instead of believing baseless word of mouth rumor and unsubstiantiated “evidence.” The anti-vaxxers “evidence” is an excuse to let kids get sick and die, needlessly and tragically.

    This isn’t about big pharma profits, reducing the population, poisoning your kids with toxins, promoting healthcare reform, or any of the other ludicrous and wildly paranoid conspiracy theories bandied around to see intended harm where none exists. Delay or stop young children’s vaccinations and you increase the risk of them becoming ill and dying from a preventable disease. Preventive medicine is the best medicine, as we all should know by now.

  3. Don’t even get me started on the anti-vaxxers campaign against swine flu vaccination. That really gets my goat, and I’m only saying that because I can’t use stronger language here.

  4. Okay, I’m going to have to say something because it’s more than a little obnoxious at this point. Whether it’s BUNNY or ZERO (and I’m beginning to suspect they’re one and the same) bold texting your whole comment is a distracting, unnecessary, annoying, and above all else poor form. The rest of us regular folk don’t seem to think our comments should stand out so vividly, why do you seem to think your comments warrant more attention? Whether it’s writing ALL CAPS or bolding everything you write, the effect is the same: It’s shouting at everyone in text format, and it’s not a mark of individuality, it’s rude.

  5. NewEnglandBob

    I agree with what The Chemist Said.

  6. Kevin

    I”m sorry, but when I saw the graphic, and the name of the group, my mind went elsewhere, not even close to vaccines.

    Sorry. :)

  7. Steve Perry?!?! I loved him in Journey, until they replaced him with that guy that sounds exactly like him. Had no idea he was a doctor… ;-)

    Seriously, good article from a vaccine-friendly doctor.

  8. Christina Viering

    Vaccines save lives. I don’t like all caps and bold either!

  9. dragonet2

    Thanks for linking to that, I posted a coherent, pro-vaccination comment. I am an old fart. I remember people being crippled or otherwise being seriously hurt by the things we vaccinate for (I was of the first or second round of folks that had the whole sets of vaccinations including measles, rubella, mumps, polio and the DTP).

    That people that are going to helicopter-parent their kids don’t want to vaccinate leaves me dumb-founded. I cannot get my mind around the idea.

  10. cory

    okay. i vaccinate. HOWEVER—the chicken pox vaccine is as yet unproven in the long term. My two older children have had both the vaccine AND the chicken pox. Do any of you remember when gen X went to college and there were measles and mumps outbreaks on campuses nationwide, because in the early 70’s we didn’t get enough boosters and our immunity wore out in our late teens? I shudder to think that children who have only gotten the chickenpox vaccine (like my youngest) will be vulnerable to what used to be a basic childhood disease at an age where it could do serious reproductive harm. (chickenpox is on my mind lately, i just got diagnosed with shingles–maybe i won’t have to worry about my youngest if she hangs around with her sick mom long enough!)

    My pediatrician supports the chickenpox vaccine NOT because it prevents chickenpox itself, but because the virulity of opportunistic diseases like staph and strep infections has increased exponentially since we were children, and the open sores from chicken pox are a quick way for kids to become infected with more deadly germs. I am lucky enough to have a pediatrician with a mind of his own and who discusses issues with me respectfully and answers questions…those are actually quite hard to find.

    I think the gardasil vaccine is a good idea, too…but why aren’t we also vaccinating boys for it? since they are carriers, too? And what about the research just out that found that HPV infection was PROTECTIVE for certain cancers? I deserve the right to make that choice for myself and my children, not have it required by law before a kindergartener can attend school, when that child won’t be having sex for at the bare minimum 7 more years~!

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/706754
    (it’s the HPV article)

    I am glad my children did not get mumps, polio, or pertussis because they were vaxed. However I will remind you that 12 years ago they were still using live polio vaccine and there was still a chance of contracting polio from the vaccine. And the first rotovirus vaccine…yes, a deadly disease in non-developed countries. But the vaccine was released HERE and here is where bowel intussusception occured in vaccinated children in the ’90’s. I opted out of that one for my son, before it was recalled. And I’m glad I did.

    Not all the vaccines they are pushing on our kids have benefits that are as immediately apparent as the MMR or DPT shots. Those my kids got on time and on schedule….oh yeah, despite the adverse reaction with my first that we had to report.

    Blind allegiance to ANYTHING….and do not be mistaken, mercke et al are expecting exactly that, blind allegiance…..is never a good idea. They are certainly making money hand over fist on vaccines. When there is THAT much money changing hands, i do my homework. Especially in regard to my kids.

  11. Jon F

    [The anti-vaxxers] shoulda been gone… after all his words of steel!

    …sorry, couldn’t resist.

  12. Don’t forget to hit people right off the bat with a counter to all the anti-vax pro-disease lies!

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

  13. cletus

    All well and good. But Phil, yer buddy George Noory needs a smack upside the head for the antivax brigade he had on Wednesday night. Worse, instead of maintaining a respectable distance from the insanity (I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to go mano-a-mano with one of his guests the way Art Bell would on occasion) he was cheerleading throughout the proceedings. Ya gotta set him straight, Phil!

  14. Mark Hansen

    Chemist (post 5), it’s a puberty thing. He/She is entering it, going through it, or got stuck in it and can’t get out. QUASAR ZERO BUNNY just needs to grow up. And stop thinking that the name changes fool anyone.

  15. Bunny (#4) I agree with the commenters. Please stop using bold all the time to make your comment stand out. It’s distracting and adds nothing to the discourse.

  16. Ted

    Hello! Our selection committee compiled an exclusive list of the Top Astronomy Blogs, and yours was included in the Top 100! Check it out at http://thedailyreviewer.com/top/Astronomy

    You can claim your Top 100 Blogs Award Badge at http://thedailyreviewer.com/pages/badges

  17. fred edison

    @cletus (#14)

    That’s a correct choice of words. “Cheerleading.” Unfortunately for the gullible, he’s largely anti-science everything when you break it down. Not once did the female guest on that show mention herd immunity during her long discourse about “harmful vaccines.” But she and her family were healthy as horses! Just a little vitamin D&C, rest, and so on was all it takes to naturally fight off practically any disease. More vaccine bashing ensued, and still no mention of herd immunity and how it helps to keep you from getting sick and from spreading diseases to healthy horses. As was expected to happen. The Art of intelligent talk is greatly missed.

  18. Larian beat me to it, but the info is also housed at http://antiantivax.flurf.net as a hopefully easy-to-read addressing of some of the main anti-vax myths.

  19. BUNNY

    @ Phil Plai, # 16

    Those were not bold letters, they were Arial Black! :P

  20. @cory

    i just got diagnosed with shingles–maybe i won’t have to worry about my youngest if she hangs around with her sick mom long enough!

    From what I understand, having shingles does not mean that you can give someone chicken pox.

    I am lucky enough to have a pediatrician with a mind of his own and who discusses issues with me respectfully and answers questions…those are actually quite hard to find.

    That’s great that you have a doctor that not only cares about vaccines, but takes the time to talk about them and why he provides them.

    I think the gardasil vaccine is a good idea, too…but why aren’t we also vaccinating boys for it? since they are carriers, too?

    Because it was most likely only tested in girls and subsequently only approved for girls 9-26. The primary concern was to figure out how to protect girls and women from getting cervical cancer, rather than focusing on the spread of the viruses, at this point in time. I am pretty sure, though, that it will eventually be approved for use in boys, as well. Remember, drug development is a slow and laborious process, and Gardasil is still relatively new.

    And what about the research just out that found that HPV infection was PROTECTIVE for certain cancers?

    Could you provide the authors and title of the study? The link you provided requires registration to view.

    I deserve the right to make that choice for myself and my children, not have it required by law before a kindergartener can attend school, when that child won’t be having sex for at the bare minimum 7 more years~!

    Well, if you’re referring to Gardasil, I think you would have other things to worry about if your kid is 9 years old (minimum age indicated for Gardasil) and just entering kindergarten. That aside, one would hope that their child does not engage in sexual activity until they are older, but sometimes they don’t wait, sometimes they don’t have a say in the matter or can’t fight back. Also, according to the CDC, “very rarely, a pregnant woman with genital HPV can pass HPV to her baby during vaginal delivery.” (http://www.cdc.gov/STD/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm#howget) But I agree, you do deserve the right to choose. Just remember the potential implications of your choice. At any rate, I don’t believe the Garadsil (or any HPV vaccine) is required for school. I may be wrong, as I don’t have a child of my own, so please correct me if I’m wrong (and include a link to the requirement, if possible).

    blind allegiance…..is never a good idea

    True. And I don’t think you will find anyone here arguing that you should blindly trust the pharmaceutical companies. Rather, that you should look at the research (the quality stuff, not the bunk put out by the Geiers or the likes of Generation Rescue, Andrew Wakefield and company), talk to your pediatrician or PCP (keep up on your boosters, even as an adult!) and make an informed decision, keeping in mind what the consequences of your choice will be, not only for you and your family, but for everyone with whom you come in contact every day.

  21. GregV

    I get a 404. I found the article here (notice the slight difference – 8/13 instead of 8/12):

    http://www.milehighmamas.com/2009/08/13/the-power-of-words-a-commentary-on-the-delayed-vaccine-schedule/

  22. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Yes, if only there was a vaccination against anti-vaxxers.

    Oh, but there is, and it is called public education.

    [Yes, I do have to exempt private schooling as there is no quality control. It can work in individual cases, but I think the facts points to it being a harmful option to have access to when you need ~ 80 – 90 % coverage as in the case of understanding medicine enough to use vaccine.]

    (LOL on the group tag.)

    @ cory:

    Do you mean that chickenpox and shingles are innocent diseases? Chickenpox famously leads to fetal damages (especially brain, but also body and skin damage), severe scarring, et cetera, while shingles AFAIU leads to higher cancer frequencies, often eye damage and possibly lasting pain. Not using the vaccine when you can is to contribute to the frequency of life-long invalids.

    What I can see is all or most of the rest of your comment anecdote, so there really isn’t much factual content to reply to. Except perhaps that you do question the usefulness of vaccine, and the answer is in as regards a population: it works.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    it’s a puberty thing.

    Not exactly, because he started yelling when people stopped responding to his drive-bys. It’s classic trolling, and should be filtered out. (But can very well be caused by pubertal problems.)

    @ Bunny et cetera:

    I’m 20 years old, if you really want to know! Puberty is way behind me!

    Oh, just this once as the discussion is on: there are no observations that support that it isn’t pubertal and that you are out of it. There is no way I know of to distinguish between childishness and trolling.

    And your reasoning is wrong, as puberty in boys (and mostly boys behave that stuhpidluh) typically occurs in the 10-20 year range AFAIU. (See Wikipedia graphic on that topic.) When you have passed that period with room to spare, you can possibly claim that you should have passed it. If all individuals stop behavior associated with it is another, and more problematic, proposal.

    Finally, we should probably discuss adolescence anyway. Even more problematic to claim that all people leave those behaviors behind.

  24. Towel
  25. cory

    Todd, Thanks for taking the time to respond to my points!

    First, the HPV study was by Kevin Cullen. I found more info here:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-07/uomm-lpo072709.php

    I re-read the Medscape article and he makes a point that I had misunderstood, that HPV is not protective against cancer, but that in individuals with otopharyngeal cancer, those with HPV get a different kind of cancer that is much less dangerous. He also mentions that we should consider marketing the vaccine to boys for just this reason.

    Incidentally, registry for Medscape is free, you don’t have to be an M.D. to join, and it’s been a valuable resource to me for the last decade or so, i highly recommend it.

    The Texas legislature *had* required that Gardasil be given to school age children in 2007,
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16948093/from/RS.4/

    but upon doing a little digging today (as i don’t live in texas and am not up on the details), a)it was required for 6th graders, and b)it is has been postponed as a requirement for now.

    Shingles is ABSOLUTELY a way to infect others with chicken pox…the herpes zoster virus reactivates along nerves, causes fluid filled blisters that contain the virus. Unfortunately that means i cannot see my newborn nephew for another month or so (two weeks at least, a month to be safe). You cannot pass *shingles* to another person, but you can pass varicella to those who have not yet gained immunity to chicken pox. Since the varicella vaccine only seems to give partial immunity (in my own experience of 2 vaccinated children both getting chicken pox when it went around the school), I could possibly infect someone. Better safe than sorry–i will not be going near my friend with cancer or newborns.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shingles/DS00098/DSECTION=risk-factors

    Torbjorn-I do NOT believe that chickenpox is an innocent disease IN ADULTHOOD–please read my original post. Also I agree with my doctor that contracting chickenpox as a child is more dangerous now due to superbugs than it was when we were younger. What i fear is that the vaccine as available now is providing incomplete immunity and will cause more, and more serious, infections in young adults because the vaccine does not appear to be entirely effective in the long term…and it hasn’t been around long enough to know for sure. And, as i stated earlier, I CURRENTLY have shingles…i am definitely, acutely aware of the complications at present!!!!!

    The vaccine does not seem to protect completely against the disease, but merely to prevent the more extreme cases of it. Here is a link to the New England Journal of Medicine regarding transmission of infection in vaccinated children:

    http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/347/24/1909

    I keep up on my boosters, my chldren’s, I keep up on my animals’ boosters….I even vaccinate my own herd of goats, myself. (just thought i’d throw that one in there–in case there was any illusion that i am anti-vax.)

  26. @cory

    I re-read the Medscape article and he makes a point that I had misunderstood, that HPV is not protective against cancer, but that in individuals with otopharyngeal cancer, those with HPV get a different kind of cancer that is much less dangerous.

    Thanks for the clarification. I found the original study here, as well: http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0149v1?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=cullen%2C+k&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

    So HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer has a better survival rate than HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer. I wonder if this indicates that the current treatments have a stronger efficacy against HPV cancers than the non-HPV variants? Orac, if you’re reading this, it would be great to hear your views on the study over at Resepectful Insolence.

    The Texas legislature *had* required that Gardasil be given to school age children in 2007

    Ah. Right idea, wrong way about going about it and for the wrong apparent reasons.

    Shingles is ABSOLUTELY a way to infect others with chicken pox…the herpes zoster virus reactivates along nerves, causes fluid filled blisters that contain the virus.

    Yeah, I had a brain fart. I was thinking about spreading shingles, and a bit of neural crossfiring later, posted my error. Thanks for the correction and link.

    Since the varicella vaccine only seems to give partial immunity (in my own experience of 2 vaccinated children both getting chicken pox when it went around the school), I could possibly infect someone. Better safe than sorry–i will not be going near my friend with cancer or newborns.

    Looks like varicella vaccine is about 87% effective, according to “Effectiveness Over Time of Varicella Vaccine” by Maria Vazquez et al. (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/291/7/851). So, yeah, looks like it needs some work to make it better, but still worth being part of the recommended vaccination schedule, I think. Making potential infections milder is better than no protection at all.

    And kudos on being cautious. I hope your shingles is mild and does not lead to any of the serious neuropathies that can occur. Best wishes.

  27. Mark Hansen

    I really shouldn’t do this but…
    Bunny multi-name, if you’d like people to believe that you have left puberty behind, then act more like an adult and less like a jerk.

  28. TS

    Bunny, you may think that you’re out of puberty, but maturity still eludes you.

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