Published on June 2nd, 2018 | by Rayne0
In which Science is Served: Influenza, Pregnancy and Vaccines
Strap yourselves in – this is a *long* post and I am not sorry.
A number of my followers have linked me to a Facebook status regarding the 2018 Influenza vaccine and pregnant women that is quite concerning. It’s Friday night, the night is young so I’m going to do what I do and address inaccuracies masquerading as science. Let me exercise my Freedom to Disagree with the author Ross Walter (of the linked status), and correct him on his…”science”. I’m going to discuss the bolded comments below.
Spoiler: It doesn’t end well. It never does when dealing with lengthy articles cleverly crafted to result in an emotional response on behalf of the reader.
Update: The status has now been deleted, you can find the blog post here: YOU WANT TO GET THE FLU VACCINE? HAVE YOU CHECKED IT’S SAFE?
“I am also going to comment on the flu vaccine by pointing out how unnecessary it is for you, and how you can protect yourself and your family from flu much better, and more safely too!”
I sense “and I can tell you how!”. I can almost smell it.
“The 2018 flu vaccines will contain 4 strains of flu, 2 of the A type viruses and 2 of the B type, as guessed by the World Health Organisation to be the 4 out of thousands of flu viruses which *may* be the most common ones this season. Yes, “guessed” is about as good as it gets…”
The Influenza vaccine works in the same way as any other vaccination – it teaches the body to produce antibodies, in this case against the head of the virus’s surface protein (glycoprotein), either hemagglutinin17 or neuraminidase. Those antibodies ideally prevent HA/NA from attaching to cell receptors, which prevent infection, obviously, this is a pretty basic explanation. Influenza being the little bastards that they are, are not only do viruses tend to have more genetic mutations because their replication method is more prone to errors, the Influenza virus thrives on mutations – mutations in the genes coding for these HA and NA glycoprotein spikes are responsible for the production of new strains of Influenza virus, via processes known as antigenic drift and antigenic shift. The sheer abundance of mutations means that at some point, one of the strains is different enough that vaccine-induced immunity stops working which is why we need new formulas every year.
However, it is because of the constant mutations, the World Health Organization has to wait to make the call on what vaccine should be available until the flu seasons of each hemisphere. Twice a year, the World Health Organization (WHO) organises a consultation with the Directors of the WHO Collaborating Centers, essential regulatory laboratories and representatives of key national laboratories and academies. They review the results of surveillance, laboratory, and clinical studies, and the availability of vaccine viruses and make recommendations on the composition of the Influenza vaccine. These meetings take place in February for selection of the upcoming Northern Hemisphere’s seasonal Influenza vaccine and in September for the Southern Hemisphere’s vaccine. WHO recommends specific vaccine viruses for inclusion in Influenza vaccines, but then each country makes their own decision about which viruses should be included in Influenza vaccines licensed in their country. THE REPORTS ARE EVEN FREE TO DOWNLOAD EVERY YEAR. GO NOW AND COLLECT THEM LIKE POKEMON.
This gives pharmaceutical companies enough time to manufacture the vaccine, which is hopefully close enough to the season’s start to get the prediction right. But six or so months is a lot of time for the virus to evolve, so sometimes the vaccine ends up with a low protection rate. This is not the fault of the manufacturer. This is simply due to a virus having a high mutation rate and manufacturer not being able to keep up.
This paper “Models for predicting the evolution of Influenza to inform vaccine strain selection” the current models and technology used by laboratories to predict upcoming mutations/
“With the 2017 flu season being one of the worst for infections and deaths on record, there is currently a massive marketing campaign to get MORE people to get the flu vaccine this year. Ironically, 2017 had one of the highest uptakes of the flu vaccine, yet also one of the highest incidences and mortality too There are a lot of lies being told about the flu vaccine, and I would like to share the published evidence, and expose the truth.”
I was thinking about whether or not to discuss this point. I’m savvy enough to read between the lines and understand this entire post is a traffic generating exercise in not outwardly saying there is a conspiracy but planting the seeds of doubt to lead readers to make their “own” conclusions.
You know – to generate traffic.
“Fact #1 – Here’s the greatest lie which I am very angry about – No vaccines are ever tested for safety or effectiveness in pregnant women. None. See the attached photos for proof, taken from all the Australian 2018 vaccine product information inserts from their respective manufacturers. (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).
My comment – when your doctor, politician or health department says vaccines are safe for you when pregnant, they are lying!”
First off, nowhere in this atrocity have you provided references. Those are in-text citations. There’s a big difference. Not actually providing a list of full references is a clever way to make your readers dig for papers they have no access to and no way to find which one you’re talking about ultimately resulting in an inability to verify what you’re saying.
Note: Product Information PDFs are also called Package Inserts. The original post contained a snippet of the insert with text underlined that informed the reader the product wasn’t tested on children under 6 months.
As per the snippet of the FluQuadri™ and FluQuadri™ Junior Product Information PDF (of which you can find the full version here, free on the TGA website, testing under the age of 6 months is listed as not being established due to the vaccine not being used for people under the age of 6 months.
Secondly, vaccines are tested on pregnant women. The only reason people say they haven’t been tested on pregnant women is because they are: 1) too lazy to be informed on new data; 2) have no idea how searching for scientific information works. Below is a list of studies that have been conducted on the Influenza vaccine in recent years – full studies, not random abstracts from PubMed, or half-arsed in-text citations masquerading as references.
A systematic review of the evidence on the effectiveness and risks of inactivated Influenza vaccines in different target groups
High Intensive Care Unit Admission Rate for 2013-2014 Influenza Is Associated with a Low Rate of Vaccination
Immunogenicity and Clinical Efficacy of Influenza Vaccination In Pregnancy
Influenza in Infants Born to Women Vaccinated During Pregnancy
Influenza Vaccine Given to Pregnant Women Reduces Hospitalization Due to Influenza in Their Infants
Influenza vaccination during pregnancy: A systematic review of fetal death, spontaneous abortion, and congenital malformation safety outcomes
Maternal safety of trivalent inactivated Influenza vaccine in pregnant women
Rates and determinants of seasonal Influenza vaccination in pregnancy and association with neonatal outcomes
Safety of Seasonal Influenza and Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccines in pregnancy
Seasonal Trivalent Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy and the Incidence of Stillbirth Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study
The safety and immunogenicity of trivalent inactivated Influenza vaccination a study of maternal-cord blood pairs in Taiwan
H1N1 Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy and Fetal and Neonatal Outcomes
Maternal Influenza Vaccination and Risk for Congenital Malformations: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Safety of Immunization during Pregnancy. A review of the evidence.
Vaccinations during pregnancy protect expectant mothers and their babies.
Neonatal outcomes after Influenza immunization during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial
“Fact #2 – The flu vaccine is not very effective in preventing you getting the flu. The flu vaccine only contains 4 strains of flu virus, out of hundreds or more strains which can cause flu in you. And the efficacy rate of actually enabling antibodies ranges can be as low as 16-26% effective for some age groups (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).”
While the protection rate is lower than other vaccinations, vaccination against Influenza can provide a better ability for the body to fight infection than not having the vaccine at all – if we keep the herd immunity high. Influenza isn’t a cute harmless illness that comes around once a year that people just need to stay at work and push through, the viruses are highly infectious and do kill people. And even when people don’t die, lost wages, lost business productivity, an increased burden on the hospital system from people needing to be admitted due to Influenza complications such as severe dehydration, heart and respiratory issues are all events that can be greatly reduced.
You can find more information about the Global Burden of Disease within the context of Australia and Internationally below:
What the Global Burden of Disease Study is and its publications
A mathematical model to estimate global hepatitis B disease burden and vaccination impact
Australian vaccine-preventable disease epidemiological review series Influenza 2006 to 2015</a
Australian vaccine preventable disease epidemiological review series measles 2000–2011
Australian vaccine preventable disease epidemiological review series mumps 2008-2012
Australian vaccine preventable disease epidemiological review series rubella 2008–2012
Benefits from Immunization during the Vaccines for Children Program Era — United States, 1994–2013
Cost-Effectiveness of Vaccination versus Treatment of Influenza in Healthy Adolescents and Adults
Contagious Diseases in the United States from 1888 to the Present
Economic Evaluation of the Routine Childhood Immunization Program in the United States 2009
Economic Benefits and Costs Associated With Target Vaccinations
Estimated economic impact of vaccinations in 73 low- and middle-income countries, 2001–2020
Global Health Impacts of Vector-Borne Diseases
Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990-2015 a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015
Human and Economic Burden of Four Major Adult Vaccine-Preventable
Modeling The Economic Burden Of Adult Vaccine Preventable Diseases In The United States
Role of vaccination in the sustainability of healthcare systems
The Burden of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Adults
The global value of vaccination
The Value of Vaccination
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Colorado’s Children Report
Just for shits and giggles, here is the complete list of all freely downloadable publications from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. NCIRS Publications List 1997 – 2017
NCIRS is a research organisation that provides independent expert advice on all aspects of vaccine-preventable diseases and social and other issues related to immunisation to inform policy and planning for immunisation services in Australia. Information on the NCIRS website is primarily intended for use by immunisation providers and academics in the field of vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation. NCIRS is a member of the WHO-led project Vaccine Safety Net (VSN).
“Fact #3 – You CAN get the flu as a result of getting the flu vaccine! ALL of the 2018 flu vaccines have side effects which includes fatigue, malaise, fever, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pains – all are symptoms of flu! The Afluria Quad vaccine even states that a side effect is an “Influenza-like illness”!”
The largest myth about the Influenza vaccine is that you get the Flu. What you have is an immune response to the vaccine as with all vaccines. You may have contracted another form of virus such as a Rhinovirus or another strain of Influenza before immunity has the time to set in.
Flu vaccines given with a needle are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are therefore not infectious, or b) with no flu vaccine viruses at all (which is the case for recombinant Influenza vaccine). The most common side effects from the Influenza vaccine are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the vaccine was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur.
These are responses from your immune system due to foreign bodies being administered into your body. Playing some semantic bullshit word game to elicit an emotional response in your readers is poor form.
“Fact #4 – None of the vaccine manufacturers used good testing practices, such as a randomised controlled trial against a placebo. They simply compared the results of their new vaccine against their old one, which doesn’t give an accurate or honest picture of the vaccine’s effectiveness or safety (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).”
Except vaccines have been studied against placebos for decades: (please see the studies for even more referenced studies).
Randomized controlled trials for Influenza drugs and vaccines: a review of controlled human infection studies
Timelines of infection and disease in human Influenza:P a review of volunteer challenge studies
The World Health Organisation even published recommendation guidelines for how to ethically use placebos in vaccine trials
“Fact #5 – 6 out of the 7 2018 flu vaccines contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen even in the smallest amounts. Other toxic and dangerous flu vaccine ingredients include polysorbate 80 (an emulsifier which can enable vaccine ingredients to cross the blood-brain barrier).”
Damn son, you are going to flip all of your shits when you find out Formaldehyde is synthesised within the human body. It has a biological half-life of around 1.5 minutes. It is metabolised to formate and excreted via our urine or exhaled as carbon dioxide (Source). It is also essential for methylation reactions for and biosynthesis of some proteins and nucleic acids. (Clary and Sullivan 2001).
The body normally produces and metabolises 50,000 mg of endogenous formaldehyde daily. It has been calculated that an adult human liver will metabolize 22 mg of formaldehyde per minute (or 1,320 mg per hour). (Clary and Sullivan 2001 Clinical Environmental Health and Toxic Exposures)
Let’s imagine a child gets all the vaccines on the current schedule at once. If a child got all of those doses all at once (which they never would), they would get a total of 1,824μg, or 1.824mg, of formaldehyde. A 3.2kg (~7lb) newborn with an average blood volume of 83.3mL/kg would naturally have, at any given time, about 575-862μg of formaldehyde circulating in their blood. By the time they are 6 years old (~46lb or 21kg), they’ll naturally have 3,562-5,342μg of formaldehyde in their blood. Bear in mind that the formaldehyde from each vaccine will not build up in their bodies from vaccine to vaccine, as it is very rapidly (within hours) metabolised and eliminated as formate in the urine or breathed out as CO2.
So what’s the most a child might get in a single office visit? That would probably be at their 6-month visit (when they are, on average, 16.5lbs or 7.5kg) with HepB, DTaP, IPV and flu, for a total of 307.5μg. That is about 160 times less than the total amount their body naturally produces every single day*. Compare that to the 428.4 – 1,516.4μg of formaldehyde in a single apple.
Clary JJ and Sullivan, Jr. JB. Formaldehyde. In: Sullivan, Jr. JB and Krieger GR, eds. Clinical Environmental and Toxic Exposures. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2001.
A quick note on polysorbate 80 here because I don’t have the time to give a comprehensive chemistry lesson.
“Fact #6 – 6 out of the 7 2018 flu vaccines can cause false positive tests for HIV, Hepatitis C and other viruses if you have these tests after a flu vaccination. Imagine getting a HIV diagnosis, unknowingly from getting a flu vaccine? (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).”
Good grief. This idea has been used as a scare tactic for decades now. A false positive result occurs when an HIV test incorrectly identifies a non-HIV-antibody as being an HIV antibody. This is usually because antigens similar to those of HIV are detected. There are many conditions that can elicit a false positive response, which is problematic in a healthcare setting when trying to diagnose a patient. Some of the conditions and treatments that can elicit a false positive:
Naturally occurring antibodies, Upper respiratory tract infection, Recent viral infection or exposure to viral vaccines, Rheumatoid arthritis, Pregnancy in multiparous women, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium, Systemic lupus erythematosus, Anti-lymphocyte antibodies, Hepatitis, Renal (kidney) failure, Alcoholic hepatitis/alcoholic liver disease, Hemodialysis/renal failure, Organ transplantation, Alpha interferon therapy in hemodialysis patients, Anti-collagen antibodies (found in gay men, haemophiliacs, Africans of both sexes and people with leprosy), scleroderma, connective tissue disease, Other retroviruses, Lipemic serum (blood with high levels of fat or lipids), Haemolyzed serum (blood where haemoglobin is separated from the red cells).
You get the idea. Well, I hope you do. Vaccinations having the potential to give false positive on HIV tests is not a reason to avoid them. Even women who have had multiple pregnancies may have this happen – this is due to them having antibodies directed against human leukocyte antigens (HLA – cell-surface proteins are responsible for the regulation of the immune system in humans) which are present on the host cells used to propagate HIV.
“Fact #7 – All of the 2018 flu vaccine information inserts say that the vaccines should be postponed if someone currently has an acute (ie, short-term) infection or fever, or both. Yet I know Doctors will either not ask about this, or routinely vaccinate someone who is currently not well or immunocompromised. This is very dangerous practice as it causes worse side effects (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).“
Look, I understand alt-med practitioners have trouble separating fact from fiction so let me make this clear: This is a not a fact. This isn’t even objective truth. This is opinion. You cannot assert that not all doctors will ask if you are feeling unwell prior to authorising a nurse to give you a vaccine, without first speaking to every doctor on the planet. And if any doctor vaccinates an immunocompromised person with a vaccine they cannot have – that’s called an ethics violation, a liability and they need to be investigated.
“Fact #8 – There are many severe side effects from the flu vaccine, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome (or paralysis), convulsions, eye disorders, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (encephalomyelitis), transverse myelitis (inflammation and loss of the nerve sheath, and a sign of multiple sclerosis), and more issues (Therapeutic Goods Administration, 2018).“
This trope is boring. I can see where this is going “I don’t trust BIG PHARMA except what’s on their package insert”. A package insert is a legal (not a medical) document that outlines everything that is legally mandated to be reported, in Australia, there are regulated by the Federal Government and the TGA: https://www.tga.gov.au/labelling-packaging. There is a section that will list down any events or effects that happened during or soon after a vaccine was administered regardless of whether or not that event is linked to having the vaccine itself.
Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks a person’s own nerve tissue, causing muscle weakness and sometimes temporary paralysis. The disorder affects approximately 2 to 8 people out of every 100,000 individuals in Australia which is around 192,000 out of 24 million. Causes are not well understood, though the disorder has been linked to several viruses including cytomegalovirus, Epstein Barr and Influenza (as well as the bacteria campylobacter).
The 1976 H1N1 flu vaccine in America was found to be linked to a higher risk of GBS that year – approximately 10 additional cases of GBS for every 1 million people vaccinated within the country, which at that point had a population of 218 million. Since then, GBS risk has probably been the single most studied adverse event from the Influenza vaccine, and the majority of it has shown no increased risk with seasonal flu vaccinations.
One study that investigated the risk of GBS from the flu vaccine among more than 30,000 million “person-years” (30 million people over an 11-year period) found no increased risk for the flu vaccine. The researchers looked to the large dataset of hospitalisation records at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, from 1995 to 2006, there were 415 cases of Guillain-Barré and 25 of those reported cases, the people had received some form of vaccine within 6 weeks of the onset of GBS.
Another study specifically on the 2009-2010 H1N1 vaccine did find an increased risk of GBS — but not as high as the risk of GBS from Influenza itself (or the risk of death from Influenza). It found a risk of 1 additional case of GBS per every 1 million vaccinations and 17 additional cases of GBS for every 1 million Influenza infections.
That Influenza season, the H1N1 Influenza killed about 280,000 worldwide (more than 12,000 of whom were in the US, which recorded 61 million H1N1 infections during 2009). Finally, one study did find a slightly higher risk – 1.6 cases of GBS per 1 million vaccinations – for seasonal Influenza vaccines and the H1N1, but this increased risk in seasonal vaccines has not been found in other studies.
And yet another study here, it shows the same trend, I’m just listing it here for bragging rights.
“Fact #9 – The 2018 Fluad vaccine (for over 65-year-olds) reported in their product information insert that their own tests showed “Hospitalisation was required in over 5% of people receiving Fluad vaccine, and deaths occurred in almost 1%” of those tested. 1% of people getting this vaccine died! (Therapeutic Goods Administration, Fluad Product Information,2018).“
You can find the document here (Side note: Package inserts also include details of studies conducted by the pharmaceutical manufacturer, wasn’t one of the points above that pharmaceutical companies never do those?) The document actually says: “Hospitalisation during the Influenza season occurred in 5.4% of subjects given Fluad® and in 5.7% of subjects given a non-adjuvanted vaccine. Death during the Influenza season was reported for 0.91% of patients given Fluad® and for 0.83% of patients given a non-adjuvanted vaccine. These differences were not statistically significant.”
What that means in the real world is that during that period of time deemed to be Influenza season, a percentage of old people who happened to have the Fluad or the non-adjuvanted vaccine died. Remember: Deaths don’t need to be linked to the vaccines to be reportable by law.
“Fact #10 – The 2018 Fluzone High-Dose vaccine test results in their product information insert showed that “6.1-8.3% experienced a “serious adverse event”, including 23 deaths (about 1% of those tested) in one clinical trial, and 167 deaths (over 1% tested) in another trial. Those who died had various chronic illnesses”. To repeat, about 1% of those over 65 years tested with this vaccine DIED! Yet this particular vaccine is specifically marketed to those over 65 years WITH chronic diseases! (Therapeutic Goods Administration, Fluzone High-Dose Product Information, 2018).“
See “Fact 9” because I am sick of fucking repeating myself.
“Fact #11 – A 2014 study showed that people who get the annual flu vaccine had a reduced immune system response (ie, reduced antibodies) after each annual flu vaccine. So the more flu vaccines you get, the less effective they are. Contrast that with the more natural flu illnesses you get, the stronger your immune system gets (McLean et al., Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal, 2014).“
You can find the full study here
What it actually says: “In conclusion, we found that vaccination provided protection against medically attended Influenza infection, regardless of prior vaccination history. This is consistent with randomized clinical trials of Influenza vaccine efficacy. However, this study raises relevant questions about the potential interference of repeated annual Influenza vaccination and possible residual protection from previous season vaccination that have not been considered in most trials. Further observational studies that include simultaneous assessment of immune response, both to vaccine antigens and previously circulating viruses, and clinical protection would be helpful.”
What is actually means: We found some data that indicates people who haven’t had an Influenza vaccine in the last 5 years in this sample have a higher level of protection than some people in the study who have had an Influenza vaccine in the last 5 years. This could be due to residue protection from previous years vaccine (perhaps from weird arse mutations from the virus), but we did find that vaccination provides protection against medically attended Influenza infection, regardless of prior vaccination history. Further studies are required.
“Fact #12 – A 2018 study on 999 children and adults showed those who had the flu vaccine had a higher rate of respiratory infections in the weeks after the vaccine than those who didn’t have the flu vaccine! And when the post-vaccine infection was analysed and confirmed as being flu, the rate of infection of those vaccinated was the same as for those not vaccinated, meaning that the flu vaccine did NOT offer any protection against flu infections, and actually caused MORE infections compared to those who did not get the flu vaccine (Rikin et al., Vaccine journal, 2018).”
Update: I previously was unable to find the study due to a lack of correct referencing, however, I have the study now.
The study did not say what the “Fact” says it does. While the hazard of (hazard meaning agent that could cause potential harm) was similar for Influenza in individuals (both vaccinated and unvaccinated) during the 14-day post-vaccination period was similar to unvaccinated individuals during the same period. The hazard of non-influenza respiratory pathogens was higher during the same period.
The Influenza vaccine has a 3 – 14-day window before it will provide protection as that is how long it can take for your body to produce enough antibodies to fight any infections, meaning for that 2-week window, you can still potentially be infected with a strain covered in the vaccine. And children have an increased risk of this over adults – this is why flu vaccinations are provided as close to the start of flu season as possible, and why it is vital to keep the herd immunity high.
“Fact #13 – If you do get the flu, suppressing symptoms with medications (pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, cough suppressants, antibiotics, anti-pyretics etc) will make the infection duration longer, more severe, and more likely to turn into pneumonia which can be very serious. A 2004 study (and others) show using antibiotics and other medications doesn’t prevent pneumonia, but can actually increase the risk, and increase mortality (Diaz et al., Clinical Infectious Diseases, 2004).“
Jesus fuck why? Here is the full study and it doesn’t say that. Are you sensing a trend with this guy? I certainly am.
The paper even mentions in the third paragraph: “One of the limitations of most clinical investigations is that their results cannot be generalized.” Not too mention the paper only speaks about Ventilator-associated pneumonia. Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a lung infection that develops in a person who is on a ventilator. The paper published in 2004 (14 years ago) looks to reassess the treatment options and risk factors for Ventilator-associated pneumonia. You can’t generalise a paper that talks about one specific risk factor for pneumonia that was published the year after I graduated high-school. You just can’t.
That’s not how the world works. That’s not how science works.
“Fact #14 – A 2013 study found that there was a 4,000% increase in risk of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth from the flu vaccine given to pregnant women, compared to pregnant women who did not get the flu vaccine in the 2009/10 season. The possible difference was the addition of the H1N1 virus to the vaccine, and the 2018 contains this virus too (Goldman, Human and Experimental Toxicology, 2013).“
Oh fuck me running, I needed to make a sacrifice to the PubMed gods for this one. I found the full study. Of course, it’s a popular one with the alternative medicine crowd. The author, Gary S. Goldman, has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Pacific Western, and the individual he thanks at the bottom of the study is Neil Z. Miller, is described as an “independent researcher”.
Miller has a long history of anti-vaccine (and not surprisingly anti-autism) activism, having written books with titles like Vaccine Roulette: Gambling With Your Child’s Life, Immunization Theory vs Reality: Expose on Vaccinations, and Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?, among others. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE; he’s also the director of the ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute.
Gary S. Goldman is about as interesting as a watching a pimple pop. I don’t really want to look but I can’t look away. It turns out that he is the President and Founder of Medical Veritas, a rabidly anti-vaccine “journal” that is into HIV/AIDS denialism, having published dubious “reanalyses” of autopsy results of victims of AIDS, such as Eliza Jane Scovill. He has written books entitled The Chickenpox Vaccine: A New Epidemic of Disease and Corruption.
Brief summary of the study: Dude searched the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for reports of fetal demise following administration of the Influenza vaccine/vaccines to pregnant women. Keep in mind that VAERS is a self-reporting system utilised not only by medical professionals but the general public. It is a system set up as a repository of “adverse” events following immunisation. Adverse event. Any untoward medical occurrence in a participant, which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the trial intervention. You can find the VAERS database here. Take note of this statement on the website: Note that the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality..
Dude then uses dodgy statistics to assert that the Influenza vaccine can cause abortion and stillbirth. Which of course, is not true. And none of the “information” in this “FACT” is even in the shitty study that was cited.
Not only does the Influenza vaccine not cause miscarriages, the current data shows that the vaccine *decreases* the risk of a miscarriages/stillbirths in pregnant women, as Influenza itself during pregnancy is linked to miscarriages, preventing Influenza in the first place is a great means to decrease the rates of miscarriage. Interestingly, the vaccine can even reduce women’s risk of other birth complications, such as a preterm birth or an underweight baby
“Fact #16 – Influenza isn’t as infectious as you have been lead to believe! Only about 20% of people at most will become infected with flu even when deliberately exposed to the virus in published studies! Hence the other 80% who were exposed were protected by their own immune system! (Cannel et al., Virology Journal, 2008).“
In other news, not many people die from lightning strikes so, by all means, run the fuck around in a storm.
First off, I’m assuming he means this review from 2008 looking at the epidemiology of influenza. The only reference I can find to “20% of people being infected” in the literature was in a section of the review discussing secondary attack rates for Influenza. *Not* that only 20% of a population will contract Influenza and the other 80% will fight it off using their immune system.
In the outbreak setting, the term attack rate is often used as a synonym for risk. It is the risk of getting the disease during a specified period, such as the duration of an outbreak.
Overall attack rate is the total number of new cases divided by the total population.
A secondary attack rate is sometimes calculated to document the difference between community transmission of illness versus transmission of illness in a household, or other closed population. More simply, the secondary attack rate is the measure of the spread of disease from the initial case (the person who introduced the pathogen to a population), to another individual in a closed population such as a hospital or a house. If I go outside into the community (Urgh, outside) and get infected with Influenza and bring the pathogen home, the secondary attack rate would be the percentage calculated from the number of people in my home who were infected by the pathogen I introduced.
But I digress.
Let’s talk about Influenza, specifically Orthomyxoviruses – the family of RNA viruses which includes seven genera of virus: Influenza virus A, Influenza virus B, Influenza virus C, Influenza virus D, Isavirus, Thogotovirus and Quaranjavirus.
Those affected by each virus are as follows: Influenza virus A (Human, pig, bird, horse, and bat), Influenza virus B (Human, seal), Influenza virus C (Human, dog), Influenza virus D (pig, cattle), Isavirus (Atlantic salmon), Thogotovirus (species includes: Thogotovirus and Dhori virus which infect ticks, mosquitos and mammals including humans) and the genus Quaranjavirus (primarily infects arthropods and birds, however the species Quaranfil will infect humans).
Drilling down even further and look at Influenza, some species of Influenza virus will have different serotypes – a serotype being a distinct variation within a species of virus (or bacteria, or among immune cells of different individuals). Serotyping often plays an essential role in determining species and subspecies particularly in regards to viruses. A serotype is different to a strain (also known as a biotype) Serotype refers to antigen differences, whereas biotypes refer to physiological properties.
Influenza A for example, has 18 known different serotypes (H1N1, H1N2, H2N2, H3N1, H3N2, H3N8, H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N8, H5N9, H7N1, H7N2, H7N3, H7N4, H7N7, H7N9, H9N2, H10N7), each with a differing pathogenic profiles; some are pathogenic to one species but not others, some are pathogenic to multiple species.
Influenza B virus is less common than Influenza A and primarily infects humans (and to a lesser extent seals). Influenza B mutates at 2 – 3 times slower the type A. Having only one serotype means it is less genetically diverse than type A, however it mutates quick enough that lasting immunity is not possible.
Influenza C virus, contracting Influenza C is rarer than the other A and B, however, it can be quite severe.
Influenza is transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughing, talking or sneezing, which creates aerosols containing the virus. Kissing can transmit the virus, as well as traces of salvia on your hands. Influenza is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, nasal secretions, faeces and blood. Infections occur through contact with these bodily fluids or with contaminated surfaces (Source).
Once you have been infected, you are contagious from 1 day before symptoms will appear, and once symptoms present – you will stay that way for between 5 – 8 days . Children may spread the virus longer than 8 days. Flu viruses capable of being transferred to hands and causing an infection can survive on hard surfaces for 24-48 hours. Infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes but survive two days on a nonporous surface. During winter temperatures the virus’s outer covering, (envelope), hardens to a rubbery gel that could shield the virus as it passes from person to person, whereas in warmer temperatures the protective gel melts to a liquid phase which results in the virus being less protected and the virus loses its ability to spread from person to person – which is why fever (an increase in temperature of the body) occurs. It is one of our body’s defences against viral invaders (Bauman, Robert. 2017).
Many Influenza-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection, either because the person may develop a secondary bacterial co-infection (such as bacterial pneumonia) or because seasonal Influenza can aggravate an existing chronic illness (such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and particularly for those who are immunocompromised). The deaths of epithelial cells infected with Influenza viruses eliminate the lungs’ first line of defence against infection, the epithelial lining. As a result, flu patients are more susceptible to secondary bacterial infection. One common infecting bacterium is Haemophilus Influenzae, which was so named because it was found in many flu victims (Bauman, Robert. 2017). Here is a comprehensive account of what Influenza will do to your body.
Estimated deaths in the US from 1976-1977 to 2006-2007 ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. More than 180,000 cases were confirmed nationally in Australia this year alone, with over 120 deaths thus far. H1N1, caused a slow, worldwide pandemic beginning in 2009 in Mexico. H1N1 killed an estimated 284,400 that year most deaths being in Africa and Asia or amongst populations who delayed care. Most of its victims were under 65 years of age.
At risk groups are mainly young children, immunocompromised people, pregnant people, and elderly adults, however, anyone can be infected by an Influenza virus with infection resulting in death – chances of death increase in people who are more vulnerable to a secondary infection. Influenza can cause respiratory illnesses, and exacerbate underlying medical conditions such as asthma. Infection and inflammation in the alveoli can significantly impact the ability of the lungs to give the body enough oxygen. Infections can also cause inflammation of the throat, inner ear, sinuses, it is also a common cause of pneumonia, as well as premature birth and labor. Viral myocarditis is a well-known complication of Influenza infection which can lead to a weakened heart muscle or death due to impaired cardiac function.
Robert Bauman, Robert. (2017). Microbiology with Diseases by Body System. 5Ed. Pearson Publishing:
“Fact #17 – There are safer, more effective and better ways to prevent flu in the colder months, and to get over them quicker than the flu vaccine.“
And I bet people can pay you to tell them what you think those things are.
“These factors are what you really need to improve to work on to prevent flu. These are what I can help you with!”
Called it. Here’s the money shot. I really hope the word wank was satisfying dude. And like a wank, it was long, tedious, positively dripping…with misinformation.
See what I did there?
“If these officials are blatantly lying about the safety of flu vaccines in pregnant women, when there are NO safety studies done ever, then you simply cannot trust them. Please do your own research (from real research studies, not from opinion piece articles) or ask other independent health practitioners before you place your life and that of your family at risk.”
Translation: It’s a conspiracy, yo! Because science is hard and shit.
This entire thing was an exercise in trying my fucking patience. I haven’t even really began to address each “Fact”.
Non-sequitur: If you need further support showing the trend of Boring McPredictable Pants Mr Walter’s use of anti-vaxxer material – this short but misinformed post is a just a repost of a Christopher Exley (who has withdrawn three papers about vaccine safety in the past two years) “paper” that was published in the same journal the author sits on the editorial board for.
Spoiler: It’s already been debunked
NOTE: For those who love to read. Here are some more useful resources:
Extensive List of Debunk Pseudoscience Studies in relation to vaccines
Government of Canda Vaccine Resources
Herd Immunity Guide
History of Vaccines
History of Vaccines in Australia
The National Immunisation Program
Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Red wine and Applesauce
The Science of Anti-Vaccination from SciShow
Vaccines and Herd Immunity from Bozeman Science
Why Vaccines Work from It’s Okay To Be Smart
Mnookin, Seth – The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear (YouTube Video)
Offit, Paul – Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, And The Search For A Cure
Offit, Paul – Killing Us Softing: Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine
Offit, Paul – Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest To Defeat The World’s Deadliest Diseases
Offit, Paul – Vaccines: What You Should Know ((Third Edition) Ed.)
Waxman, Meredith – The Vaccine Race
Vaccinology – Principles and Practice
Plotkin, Stanley., Orenstein Walter., Offit, Paul – Vaccines Expert Consult
Vaccine Hesitant Loved One Toolkit (Downloadable)
SCIENCE VS PSEUDOSCIENCE, and CRITICAL THINKING
Sense of Science:
What’s the difference between science and pseudo-science?
The Difference between Science and Pseudoscience – Discerning science from pseudoscience
Aspiring Thinkers Guide to Critical Thinking
The Miniature Guide to The Foundation for Critical Thinking
Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills
Vaccines and Autism A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses
Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement
If you like what I write – I now have a Facebook page.