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Posts Tagged ‘outbreak’

Measles Outbreak Hospitalizes Four Children

March 31, 2011 1 comment

Yes, and it could have been prevented.

The outbreak happened in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis. Since measles immunization is highly effective at preventing measles, how is it a that an outbreak like this could have occurred?

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a recent outbreak of measles in the Twin Cities area was caused in part by former doctor and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield’s influential but fraudulent study suggesting a connection between child vaccination and autism.

So why weren’t the children vaccinated?

Several of the parents informed the Health Department they had avoided the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine out of concerns their children would be at risk of autism.

If you read this blog at all (or any other skeptic blog, for that matter) you know this already. But once more, with feeling…

VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM

Not only has Wakefield’s original study been shown be of poor quality, it has also been alleged to be fraudulent. Many larger studies have shown absolutely no correlation between vaccines and autism.

None. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Nil.

Ok, I’m starting to get worked up. It happens when I talk about vaccines especially.

Why? Well usually when a scientist’s outlandish claims get debunked it is an “I told you so!” situation.

But when children (or anyone) get hurt or hospitalized as a result of those outlandish claims, it becomes a “Bang your head against the wall because this could have been prevented” situation.

Maybe we could call this a “Wakefield” situation; a “When Are Kids Ever going to Forgive us for letting Idiots Endanger their Lives with Debunked science” situation.

The reality is starting to set in, as Dr. William Schaffner, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, lays out:

Hospitalizations and deaths have occurred—all preventable, had the children been immunized. In the U.S., some parents withhold vaccines; others stretch out the vaccination schedule, leaving children susceptible to disease for longer than they should.

I don’t know if the damage caused by that original Wakefield paper will ever be fully undone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to undo as much as possible.

You Can Save a Child’s Life Just by Reading This!

June 29, 2010 3 comments

I’m mad. I mean I’m really really REALLY mad!

The anti-vaccine movement has been gaining strength in recent years. This will result in the deaths of young children and infants.

It is already happening.

An epidemic of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is currently in progress in California. Pertussis is a disease preventable through vaccination. Even though the vaccine is not 100% effective, when enough people get vaccinated the incidence of the disease declines.

Unfortunately, vaccination rates in California have been dropping for several years. We are seeing the largest outbreak of Pertussis in California in over 50 years.

5 infants under 3 months of age have already died.

Why is this happening? Well, in 1998 a British man named Andrew Wakefield was developing an alternative to the Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) vaccine. So, with funding from a law firm (which was suing the current manufacturer of the MMR vaccine), Wakefield performed a study.

He paid 12 children who were attending his child’s birthday party £5 to take a blood sample from them (yes, at the party). He then used these samples to draw a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism spectrum disorders.

This study was poor, the data was faked, and the paper was later retracted by the journal in which it was published. Wakefield was then stripped of his medical license. He moved from the UK to the United States.

There, he got himself a foot soldier: Jenny McCarthy.

I sure wouldn’t mind her on MY team…

She went on Oprah and other TV shows shouting to the rafters that vaccines gave her son autism. These claims were not scientifically grounded.

In the years since, the MMR vaccine and others have been studied and re-studied by labs all over the world. The conclusion is unanimous:

VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM.

But sadly, this is not the end of the story. The anti-vaccine movement has gotten very good at being conspiracy theorists. They think the pharmaceutical companies are all behind these studies. This is false.

They claimed it was Thimerosol, an ingredient in the MMR vaccine. Thimerosol was removed, and autism rates have not dropped. They were wrong.

They are extremely proficient at using the ad hominem fallacy by personally attacking those who are trying to get the truth out there. Their attacks are pathetic, ungrounded, and often flat out lies.

They use straw man arguments to attempt to discredit the studies done by real scientists. This is a tactic used by other pseudoscience proponents like those who believe in Sasquatch, Astrology, and Homeopathy. It is misleading and horrible that they would do this.

Let me make this perfectly clear. WE are the good guys. The science guys. The ones who know that vaccines work. WE are the ones trying to save children’s lives.

We are losing.

But we will continue to fight. We will continue to spread our message and save as many children as we can.

You can help. You can read the literature, you can spread the word. You can also go out and get your booster shots. As a population, we can completely eliminate Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and many others. It is possible.

We just need YOUR help.