Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

Posted in News by Skepdude on October 20, 2009

Skepdude says – Excellent article! Loved every line of it. This should be mandatory reading for any skeptic!

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WIRED.COM

To hear his enemies talk, you might think Paul Offit is the most hated man in America. A pediatrician in Philadelphia, he is the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year. Yet environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. slams Offit as a “biostitute” who whores for the pharmaceutical industry. Actor Jim Carrey calls him a profiteer and distills the doctor’s attitude toward childhood vaccination down to this chilling mantra: “Grab ‘em and stab ‘em.” Recently, Carrey and his girlfriend, Jenny McCarthy, went on CNN’s Larry King Live and singled out Offit’s vaccine, RotaTeq, as one of many unnecessary vaccines, all administered, they said, for just one reason: “Greed.”

Thousands of people revile Offit publicly at rallies, on Web sites, and in books. Type pauloffit.com into your browser and you’ll find not Offit’s official site but an anti-Offit screed “dedicated to exposing the truth about the vaccine industry’s most well-paid spokesperson.” Go to Wikipedia to read his bio and, as often as not, someone will have tampered with the page. The section on Offit’s education was once altered to say that he’d studied on a pig farm in Toad Suck, Arkansas. (He’s a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine).

Then there are the threats. Offit once got an email from a Seattle man that read, “I will hang you by your neck until you are dead!” Other bracing messages include “You have blood on your hands” and “Your day of reckoning will come.” A few years ago, a man on the phone ominously told Offit he knew where the doctor’s two children went to school. At a meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an anti-vaccine protester emerged from a crowd of people holding signs that featured Offit’s face emblazoned with the word terrorist and grabbed the unsuspecting, 6-foot-tall physician by the jacket.

“I don’t think he wanted to hurt me,” Offit recalls. “He was just excited to be close to the personification of such evil.” Still, whenever Offit gets a letter with an unfamiliar return address, he holds the envelope at arm’s length before gingerly tearing it open. “I think about it,” he admits. “Anthrax.”

So what has this award-winning 58-year-old scientist done to elicit such venom? He boldly states — in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autism’s False Prophets — that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism — treatments that he says not only don’t work but often cause harm.

As a result, Offit has become the main target of a grassroots movement that opposes the systematic vaccination of children and the laws that require it. McCarthy, an actress and a former Playboy centerfold whose son has been diagnosed with autism, is the best-known leader of the movement, but she is joined by legions of well-organized supporters and sympathizers.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT WIRED.COM

Introducing Jenny McCarthy Body Count

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on March 30, 2009

Jenny McCarthy’s special brand of  anti science zeal has finally a quantifiable number attached to it, thanks to the Jenny McCarthy Body Count website. Go there frequently. As of today it stand at

  • Preventable Cases – 720
  • Preventable deaths – 142

Now of course this is a bit exagerated, not all of these cases are due directly to the anti-vaccine movement, but you have to wonder, how high is the percentage of those cases that are and can you live with that as an anti-vaccer? What if it was 1 of each only, can you, as an anti-vaccer, still look at yourself in the mirror without throwing something at it?

Vaccine scares around the world

Posted in News by Skepdude on March 25, 2009

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine – A widespread scare about vaccine side effects in Ukraine has led to a sharp drop in immunizations that could result in disease outbreaks spreading beyond the former Soviet republic, international and local health officials say.

Hundreds of thousands of fearful Ukrainians have refused vaccines for diseases such as diphtheria, mumps, polio, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, whooping cough and others this year, according to official estimates. Authorities have canceled a U.N.-backed measles and rubella vaccination campaign funded by U.S. philanthropist Ted Turner, and will have to collect and incinerate nearly 9 million unused doses in coming months.

“I never thought I’d see the day where perfectly good vaccines are being destroyed,” said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for UNICEF.

Experts blame the Ukrainian scare on government mismanagement and irresponsible media coverage of an anti-vaccination campaign launched after the May death of a 17-year-old boy who had received a combined shot for measles and rubella.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “MSNBC”

INDONESIA

Indonesia’s controversial health minister says she wants to end vaccinating children against meningitis, mumps and some other diseases because she fears foreign drug companies are using the country as a testing ground.

Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari — who first drew widespread attention by boycotting the World Health Organization’s 50-year-old virus sharing system in 2007 — said Tuesday she wanted “scientific proof” that shots for illnesses like pneumonia, chicken pox, the flu, rubella and typhoid were “beneficial”.

“If not, they have to be stopped,” she said, declining to say exactly what that would mean. “We don’t want our country to be a testing place for drugs, as has been the case in Africa.”

Supari said she still would advocate immunizations against measles, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

Her statement comes at a time when Indonesia is struggling to contain outbreaks of preventable childhood illnesses.

Chronic funding problems and chaotic decentralization efforts since the 1998 ouster of longtime dictator Suharto have forced many local clinics in the poorest parts of the nation to scale back operations, reducing the time and money spent on education and routine immunizations.

The number of cases of measles, tuberculosis and other diseases has skyrocketed. Polio briefly re-emerged after a decade-long absence in 2005.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE SEATTLE TIMES”

Measles on the rise in Australia and Switzerland, too

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on February 10, 2009

At what point do start to hold antivaxxers responsible? I ask, because we’re on the verge of a record year for measles in Australia: in Victoria, 11 cases have been reported in 2009 so far. That’s far more more than in 2006 and 2007 combined, and under extrapolation is as bad as an outbreak in 1999 where over 100 cases were reported.

As if that weren’t enough, Switzerland has had 22 cases reported in two days.

Is antivax rhetoric to blame here? The Australian article doesn’t say how many of these people were not vaccinated; several were adults, so they should have been vaccinated well before this craze of linking vaccines to health problems started up. But some kids were on that list, and I wonder if they were vaccinated, and if not, why not.

However, for the outbreak in Switzerland, it does look like antivaccination insanity is to blame

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD ASTRONOMY”

An unvaccinated child has died from a preventable disease

Posted in Bad Astronomy by Skepdude on January 25, 2009

This story is so sad, and what makes it worse is that it was preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control has put out an alert: in Minnesota in 2008, there were five confirmed cases of Haemophilus influenzae type b (or Hib) among children younger than five years old. Of these five cases, three of the children were unvaccinated, one had started the series of vaccines but did not complete the series due to shortages, and the fifth — who had been fully vaccinated — had an immune deficiency.

Five cases may not sound like a lot… until you learn that one of the unvaccinated children died. This was a baby, just a seven-month-old infant.

I can barely type that sentence out; my heart is aching so. I can only imagine what the parents are feeling. I literally have nightmares about such things.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “BAD ASTRONOMY”