Friday, June 22, 2012

NSW Extends Free Pertussis Vaccine for New Mothers

About a month ago, Phil Plait wrote about the Victoria, Australia, Ministry of Health's decision to end a program that provides pertussis vaccine boosters for free to carers of newborns in an effort to protect infants from what can be, for them, a deadly disease. The reason cited was that the program did not "get the clinical result required". This move by the state of Victoria led Toni McCaffery, whose infant daughter, Dana, was killed by pertussis, to create a petition to the Premiers and Health Ministers of Australia to ask the states to continue to provide free pertussis vaccines to adults caring for newborns to help cocoon these infants until they are old enough to be vaccinated.

Well, the state of New South Wales has listened, to a degree.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mark "Castrate 'Em" Geier's License Suspended - Part 6

[Edited to add: Not sure how I missed this, but when checking out Dr. Geier's listing on the Florida Department of Health's site, it looks like his certification with the American Board of Medical Genetics has been revoked, as well.]

There's been another development in the case of Dr. Mark Geier, the physician who came up with the Lupron Protocol as a purported treatment for autism. Lupron, for those who don't know about it, is a drug that is used in prostate cancer treatment, fertility treatment, to treat precocious puberty and, off-label, to chemically castrate sex offenders. It shuts down production of sex hormones (testosterone in men, estrogen in women). The reason the Geiers use this drug is because they believe that testosterone and mercury bind together, making it more difficult for the body to eliminate the mercury in, for example, thimerosal-containing vaccines. This belief comes from a single study examining testosterone and mercury in hot benzene, which, for those who might be unaware, is a condition never found in the human body. Prometheus wrote about this back in 2006. Never mind that there is no quality evidence showing that in children with autism there is any of this testosterone-mercury binding going on, nor that using lupron (followed by chelation) has any benefit at all.

At any rate, Dr. Geier's erroneously diagnosing children with precocious puberty so he would be able to prescribe lupron, among other ethical and professional lapses, led to his license to practice medicine in Maryland being suspended. This, in turn, resulted in the licensing boards in a number of other states suspending his licenses, too. Which brings us to today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 10 Pro-vaccine Commandments According to Anti-vaccinationists

Ahhh. Taking a few days away from it all to visit with family and friends is always good. Even better is when you get to do all that and return to find a wee bit o' the hilarious sitting in your inbox. Liz Ditz brought to my attention a relatively new group on Facebook: Provax Quacks. This group is described thusly:
Pointing out the duplicity and idiocy of the vaccine enthusiasts since 2012! Content irrelevant to the pages [sic] theme will be removed. [Edited to add: It looks like the ones running the group removed that second sentence sometime June 13, 2012 (curse my lack of foresight to get a screen grab), but looking at the comments on some of their wall posts, they have clearly been deleting comments, as predicted.]
Right off the bat, they conveniently let you know that any fact-based comments that contradict their ideological line will be censored. That saves me a lot of time. I won't waste any effort trying to comment on this new echo chamber of anti-vaccine inanity. I will, however, share with my readers a rather hilarious wall post put up by this group. If you had any doubts that the members of this group have little to no understanding of science or logic, what you are about to see will make it all perfectly, readily clear. In fact, I probably don't even need to offer my own commentary, but I just can't resist.

Without further ado, then, I present Vaccinology 10 Commandments, as seen by anti-vaccinationists:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Report from HHS on Vaccine Storage

I heard something on the news this morning that I figured would get the anti-vaccine crowd into a fervor of excitement. It is something that they could spin to make it seem like vaccines really are dangerous or that they really don't protect people. Images leapt to mind of writers and commenters alike over at Age of Autism crying out, "See! We're not dumb for refusing vaccines!" Barbara Loe Fisher at the National Vaccine Information Center floated before my eyes, declaiming that vaccines are not safe. I could almost hear Mike Adams or Gary Null snidely claiming that this report proves (proves, I tell you!) that vaccines are ineffective. And so, I figured I should probably take a closer look into it before the wacky misinterpretations and outright lies began to flow.

What brought all this to mind? As reported by ABC news, some doctors may not be storing vaccines properly. The story is based on a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled Vaccines for Children Program: Vulnerabilities in Vaccine Management (the PDF of the full report can be found here). Briefly, the OIG found that providers of vaccines made available through the CDC's Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) (a program that provides free vaccines to kids whose families might otherwise be unable to afford to get their child immunized) were frequently storing vaccines in inappropriate conditions, potentially reducing their potency and efficacy.

There are a couple ways that I could see this report being spun by opponents of vaccination. Let's take a look...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mostly Good News from Vermont

Back in March, I wrote about how Vermont was moving toward improved public health by putting forth a bill that, if passed,would eliminate philosophical exemptions from school and daycare immunization requirements, while still leaving religious and medical exemptions intact. After a considerable amount of going back and forth, in committee, out of committee, to the House, back to the Senate and so on, Senate bill S.199 was signed into law on May 16, 2012.

As with all things legal and political, there are positive aspects of the enacted law (PDF) as well as some negatives. The big negative, from my perspective, is that philosophical exemptions are still allowed in Vermont. But not all is doom and gloom. The various revisions the bill underwent added significantly to the school immunization laws, going beyond the simple issue of exemptions.

So, what all has changed?