Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Did you know that?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on July 28, 2010

Also posted at Vaccine Central

  1. Measles is one of the leading causes of death for children around the world.
  2. In the year 2000 only 72% of children worldwide had received the first dose (of two) by their first birthday
  3. In the year 2000 an estimated 733,000 people died of measles worldwide
  4. In the year 2008 about 83% of children worldwide had received the first dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday
  5. In the year 2008 an estimated 164,000 people died of measles worldwide, a net gain of over 550,000 lives from 2000
  6. As high as 10% of measles cases result in death among populations with high levels of malnutrition and a lack of adequate health care.
  7. More than 10,000,000 people are affected by measles every year
  8. 1-2 out of every 1,000 children that get measles will die
  9. Measles can make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely
  10. There are people who claim measles is not a big deal and “natural immunity” via actually getting the disease is to be preferred to vaccinations. Really? When was the last time the measles vaccine caused 733,000 deaths?

Pneumonia vaccine ineffective?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 7, 2010


Pneumonia vaccine ineffective against repeat infections: study” screams the headline. The article goes on to clarify that a study just published seems to suggest that the pneumococcal vaccines in use in Canada do not seem to perform any better than no vaccine. How is that possible? Well, so far as I can tell, it isn’t, and this seems to be another case of dubious reporting by the journalists, and careless conclusions by paper authors.

I could not get my hands on a copy of the full published study the article refers to, although I will probably be able to in the near future. In the mean time, all I can go on is the abstract which can be found at PubMed or at Chicago Journals. Let us examine exactly what this study seems to suggest, based on the publicly available abstract.

Background.There is debate surrounding the effectiveness of the 23‐valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV). We determined whether PPV was associated with reduced mortality or additional hospitalization for vaccine‐preventable infections in patients previously hospitalized for community‐acquired pneumonia (CAP).

Ok, so first thing to keep in mind: they only studied people who got pneumonia. This is not a study comparing vaccinated vs. unvaccinated, and seeing if there is any protection offered by the vaccine in the form of reduced infection rates. This is a study consisted of only people who got sick, breaking those down into two groups and seeing how each group fared.

Now, it is an accepted fact that no vaccine is 100% effective, meaning that no vaccine will prevent the disease on all people who receive it. For one reason or another, some people get no benefit from any given vaccine. Those people will get sick from the disease, regardless of their vaccination status.  By definition, if you are gathering together people who are sick in the hospital, you are already limiting yourself to only that subset of the vaccinated population for whom the vaccine has already failed. So from that point alone, this is like saying “Well let me find all the people for whom the vaccine failed & let me measure how effective the vaccine was for them“. Just to make a comparison, this sounds kind of like saying “let me find out which team lost, and see how likely they are to have won!“.


Help a parent make the right decision

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on June 1, 2010

This parent has a very common question in their mind, and unfortunately, they’ve turned to the internet for answers. I do not think posting your health question on some web forum is the best way to get the right answer, but it is what it is and we now have to do our best to help them make the best decision for them and their child. The question is as follows:

He’s 16 weeks and it’s about time for his 4 month shots.Some people say don’t do it might cause autism or death.Others say I don’t have a choice.Do I have a choice? If not now would later be ok.

This is the comment I left. Others need to join in so we can sway him/her to at least discuss this with their pediatrician before they make a decision.

The question is not: are immunizations safe for you child. The question you should ask yourself, and your PEDIATRICIAN, is: Is it safe NOT to immunize your child? 20 seconds of crying can save you boat loads of headaches and stress down the road. This is an issue of your child’s health, and I strongly suggest you don’t limit yourself to internet research but speak to an expert, a pediatrician, or two or three if you want to get more opinions. But remember, quality of opinion matters more than quantity.

Far as choice goes, the CDC schedule is just a recommended schedule; as the parent you’re still given all the freedom to decide not to vaccinate. However, when the time comes for the child to go do daycare/school you will be required to have them caught up in order to attend, but even then you may be able to exempt them from this requirement. See my entry here for details on legal requirements.

Please take a few minutes, add your comment; if we get one parent to do the right thing that is a step in the right direction.

Skeptify this poll

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 24, 2010

Brother and sisters in, metaphorical, arms: Skeptify this poll.

Do you think vaccines are related to autism?

It’s just too bad they did not have a “Seriously????” option; that’s the one I would’ve gone for, instead I had to settle for the simple No. Go on now my minions, all 4 of you, make your master proud!

How not to report news

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 12, 2010

BABY DIES AFTER RECEIVING HEP B VACCINATION, screams the headline. One need not read the rest of the article, because the headline tells it all, the Hep B vaccine killed the baby, right? Well, yes, if you’re only looking for sensational headlines that is. Here’s how the story goes:

The one-month old baby was given the shot at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Shidao Hospital in Hongmei Township, Nan’an City, a county-level city in Quanzhou, the baby’s mother Huang Ali claimed.

“After the vaccination, he became fidgety and cried a lot after we returned home half an hour later,” she said, adding that he had been a healthy baby.

She claimed that she found her son’s limbs were cold and his nose were bleeding at 1 am on Sunday, and she rushed him to Shidao Hospital.

“He did not respond to the first-aid,” she said, adding that she suspects that the vaccine administered on her son was low quality, and it caused her son’s death.

Ok, that may, or may not, be a reasonable suspicion. Technically speaking the baby did die at some point in time after the vaccination was received, but what else happened in between those two events? Did the baby eat? Drink? Most likely, and most likely much closer to the time of death than the vaccine. So why does the headline not read “Baby dies after eating?” or something similar? Why that wouldn’t be sensational now would it?  Could there have been some other reason why the baby died? Maybe, we can’t say for sure. All we know is this:

Meanwhile, health specialists from Quanzhou and Nan’an said the baby had died from anoxia, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and lung bleeding, possible signs of suffocation, Xie said.

“The cause of his death will be pinpointed only after autopsy,” Xie added.

Xie said the vaccine was produced by Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. Ltd. and was distributed by the disease prevention and control center in Quanzhou.

He said the city has sealed all 5,001 doses of the vaccine in stock for quality inspection. He said no other abnormal reactions to the vaccine had been reported after 4,898 doses were used. – Bernama

Ok, so suffocation is one possible culprit here. Not sure how a vaccine can cause suffocation, but I will keep my mind open for some extremely rare reaction, nevertheless there are countless other ways little babies suffocate, such as SIDS, which also affects little babies as they sleep.

So I guess the only thing we can say for sure at this point is that we do not know why this baby died. He did die about 16 hours after the shot, but no causal link can be made at this point. Let us see if anything comes out of the autopsy. But, don’t be an idiot and pretend to know what happened here; no one does yet.

Oh Mike, how you amuse me!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 12, 2010

So Mike wrote a blog entry about the problems they are having with the flu vaccine in Australia. The flu vaccine was stopped because there was an unusually high number of adverse effects, and they are now looking into it to figure out why. Well, no need for them to do it, Mike already has the answer. Now instead of poking fun at Mike, I ……ah what the hell let us have some fun. Let me rewrite a portion Mike’s flu vaccine entry, but substituting for the romaine lettuce e-coli issue.

Romain lettuce has sent 19 people into the hospital with life-threatening E. coli O145, reports The Internet. This lettuce was being give to humans to “protect” them from hunger, but after receiving the salad, these humans started going into hemolytic uremic syndrome.

An investigation has revealed that there is no quality control problem with any particular batch of lettuce. They all pass quality control, in other words, so the convulsions are being caused by what is intentionally put into the lettuce, not by some mistaken chemical contaminant.

This, of course, baffles non-organic agriculturers who have all been told that pesticides are perfectly safe and could never harm anyone. So rather than pausing to consider what might be contained in the lettuce that’s causing people to go into hemolytic uremic syndrome, they charge ahead with the recommendation that even more people should eat greens.

Fucking lettuce man, I’ve always said that lettuce causes E. Coli and here is proof!

Ok, fun’s over let us look at some of Mike’s actual claims and see if they stand the test of ……research!

  1. Influenza vaccines have sent 57 children into life-threatening convulsions True. from what I’ve been able to find out. It appears about 57 children went into convulsions and about 200 others had high fevers right after receiving the shot. This incidence of side effects is higher than the expected 0.001-0.0001% that is expected, thus the suspension of further flu vaccinations for kids under 5 in Australia.
  2. An investigation has revealed that there is no quality control problem with any particular batch of influenza vaccines True. An investigation by the manufacturer has failed to find any abnormalities with the vaccines.
  3. Conventional doctors have all been told that vaccines are perfectly safe and could never harm anyone.Bullshit! That is flat-out wrong. Vaccines have side effects. This is a well-known fact and no doctor will, or should, tell any parent that vaccines are “perfectly safe and could never harm anyone!”. The probability of the side effects is quite low, but they are not non-existent. The CDC has a nice web page listing the side effects by vaccine. So how exactly is it that doctors are claiming that vaccines could never harm anyone? So either the doctors Mike’s listening to are complete incompetents, or he is …confused, about statistics.
  4. So rather than pausing to consider what might be contained in the vaccines that’s causing children to go into convulsions, they charge ahead with the recommendation that even more people should get vaccines.Wrong. Is Mike even reading the news about this flu vaccine issue in Australia?  When the unusually high number of side effects happened the flu vaccination campaign was suspended for all children under 5 years over there. Batches are being tested to figure out why this happened. How exactly is that not “pausing to consider what might be contained in the vaccines that’s causing children to go into convulsions”?
  5. In reality, an immune system can only invoke an adaptive response when it is properly nourished with vitamin D. WOW! Just wow. He’s either a genious or…….

Measles claims almost 200 in Africa

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 22, 2010

In less than three months, a measles outbreak in Africa has killed 185 children . the UN is asking for help to increase vaccination efforts in the affected areas. As it stands, only about 80% of the population is vaccinated, quite below the desired level of 95%. These low levels of vaccination means that outbreaks,  such as the one gripping the continent now,  can be expected every 3-4 years. I send Jenny McCarthy a tweet pointing her attention to this issue and asking her to change her stance on vaccines. Do you think this story will change her mind at all? …..we can only hope!

What’s the harm in not vaccinating your child?

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 23, 2010

Well it’s only one kid, the thinking goes. Isn’t there something called “herd immunity” that is supposed to protect my child so he/she doesn’t have to get stuck with a needle? I’ll be slick; let everyone else’s kid get STUCK WITH A NEEDLE and mine won’t have to! Smart right? What’s the harm anyway? Well, since you asked, how about infecting another 11 unvaccinated children, 3 or which were babies too young to have received the vaccine, one of which was hospitalized for three days with 106 degree fever? If that is not enough, how about $177,000 in taxpayer money spent in containing and treating this infection outbreak?

What began as a family trip to Switzerland in 2008 ended up as a public health nightmare in California.The family’s 7-year-old boy, who was intentionally unvaccinated against measles, was exposed to the virus while traveling in Europe. When he returned home to San Diego, he unknowingly exposed a total of 839 people, and an additional 11 unvaccinated children contracted the disease.

Three of those infected were babies, too young to have yet received the measles vaccines, and one of the babies was hospitalized for three days with a 106-degree fever, according to a report to be published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

“Measles is just a plane ride away, including places like Switzerland and the U.K.,” said one of the researchers, Dr. Jane Seward, deputy director of viral diseases at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This study serves as a reminder that measles can be a very serious disease that can lead to severe complications and death, and that the measles, mumps, rubella [MMR] vaccine is highly effective and the best way to prevent measles. It’s also a reminder that people who choose not to vaccinate don’t just put themselves and their children at risk, but also their communities, which includes infants who are too young to immunize,” she said.

This 2008 outbreak was the first in San Diego since 1991, according to the report. Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, as many as 500 children died each year from the measles, and nearly 50,000 were hospitalized annually in the United States because of the virus, according to background information in the report.

In recent years, however, the virus has resurged as many parents choose not to vaccinate their children, often because of fears about serious side effects. In fact, a recent study from the University of Michigan found that even among those who do vaccinate, more than half are concerned about serious side effects. Many of these fears stem a reported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This link has been disproved in numerous studies, however.

Folks, stop being kids and vaccinate your kids!

U.S. court rules again against vaccine-autism claims

Posted in News by Skepdude on March 15, 2010


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vaccines that contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal cannot cause autism on their own, a special U.S. court ruled on Friday, dealing one more blow to parents seeking to blame vaccines for their children’s illness.

The special U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that vaccines could not have caused the autism of an Oregon boy, William Mead, ending his family’s quest for reimbursement.

“The Meads believe that thimerosal-containing vaccines caused William’s regressive autism. As explained below, the undersigned finds that the Meads have not presented a scientifically sound theory,” Special Master George Hastings, a former tax claims expert at the Department of Justice, wrote in his ruling.

In February 2009, the court ruled against three families who claimed vaccines caused their children’s autism, saying they had been “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment”.

The families sought payment under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that has a $2.5 billion fund built up from a 75-cent-per-dose tax on vaccines.


Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on March 1, 2010

By offering the vague caveat that “there is no cure” while peddling her Generation Rescue’s slogan “autism is reversible” and telling parents that “for a moderately autistic kid the best prognosis is full recovery,” McCarthy makes a promise that no one on the planet has the authority to make. It’s one that puts the onus of failure on parents whose kids can’t or simply don’t make that “full recovery” and opens up those who take her advice to “try everything” to a buffet of expensive to downright dangerous quackery. Hey cautious party line that she supports a modified vaccination schedule while resolutely insisting on her Web site that “the nurse gave [Evan] the shot … and soon thereafter — boom — the soul’s gone from his eyes” is similarly disingenuous.