The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘vaccine’

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Vaccines!

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 2, 2011

In a bit of good news, it seems the SCOTUS has produced a pretty strong science & reason-based ruling on the issue of vaccinations and lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.  This is also, indirectly yet very importantly, a big blow to the anti-vaccination movement

Supreme Court rules for vaccine makers on lawsuits

The Supreme Court ruled that federal law shields vaccine makers from product-liability lawsuits in state court seeking damages for a child’s injuries or death from a vaccine’s side effects.

The high court on Tuesday ruled for Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer Inc, in a lawsuit brought by the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who suffered seizures as an infant after her third dose of a diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 1992.

Pfizer and other vaccine makers had argued that a Supreme Court ruling for the plaintiffs could open the door to a flood of lawsuits — many by families who believe vaccines cause autism — and threaten the supply of childhood vaccines. … [emphasis added]

That last point is a major win for the pro-vaccine team, folks.  That’s because if the SCOTUS had ruled differently, you can bet your bottom dollar that Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, and their legions of true-believing followers within the anti-vax movement would have been clogging up the courts for years (or decades, even) with frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit lamenting about how “vaccines caused my kid’s autism” or “the jabs took my little Johnny’s soul away” or similar garbage (because, yes, some people actually believe that crap).  And since I am on the topic of mentioning frivolous lawsuits, allow me to reference the SCOTUS ruling on that point…

“Vaccine manufacturers fund from their sales an informal, efficient compensation program for vaccine injuries; in exchange they avoid costly tort litigation and the occasional disproportionate jury verdict. Congress enacted this deal to coax manufacturers back into the vaccine market,” [Justice] Scalia said.

In short, if the vaccine manufacturers didn’t have at least some kind of protection against lawsuits, they would get out of the (not-very-profitable) vaccine business altogether, with the resulting loss of widespread vaccination & herd immunity being highly detrimental to society.  Of course, one reason why the anti-vaxxers would have liked to have seen this SCOTUS ruling go the other way is because then it would have opened the door to a tsunami of frivolous lawsuits, which then would have led to many vaccine manufacturers giving up the business, which would lead to lower vaccination rates…

which would kill a lot of people. But hey, the anti-vax goons would feel pretty good about that, wouldn’t they, because then at least those “evil vaccines” weren’t around any more, right?

Of course, the response from the anti-vax loons is all-too-predictable.  I’m going to use my “amazing psychic powers” and guess that it’s going to be something along these lines:

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It Bears Repeating: Yet MORE Evidence That Vaccines DON’T Cause Autism!

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 13, 2010

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but… hell with it, let’s beat the dead horse once more: here is YET MORE evidence that vaccines DON’T cause autism!

No link found between vaccine mercury and autism

By Frederik Joelving Frederik Joelving Mon Sep 13, 3:38 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new government study adds to the evidence that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative until recently found in many vaccines, does not increase children’s risk of autism.

It shows kids who had been exposed as babies to high levels of the preservative — through vaccines they received or their mothers received while pregnant — were no more likely to develop autism, including two distinct subtypes of the condition.

“This study should reassure parents about following the recommended immunization schedule,” said Dr. Frank Destefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, and the study’s senior author.

Concerns about a link between vaccines and autism were first raised more than a decade ago by British physician Andrew Wakefield.

His report, based on 12 children, has since been discredited and was retracted earlier this year by the journal that published it. In the meantime, it sparked a fierce worldwide debate among scientists and a health scare that caused many parents to shy away from recommended vaccines like the one against measles, mumps and rubella.

Outbreaks of all three diseases followed.

One widespread worry has been that thimerosal might play a role in the development of autism, a condition that affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children, according to the CDC.

Most scientists consider autism a developmental disorder, likely influenced by genes.

Autism spectrum disorders range from mild Asperger’s Syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, and there is no cure or good treatment.

The CDC researchers used data for U.S. children born between 1994 and 1999, who were enrolled in one of three managed care organizations.

They found 256 children with an autism spectrum disorder and compared them with 752 children who did not have the condition, but were matched for age and sex.

No matter when a child had been exposed to thimerosal — before birth when the mother had a shot, or when the child itself was vaccinated as a baby or toddler — there was no increase in the risk of any type of autism spectrum disorder.

In fact, those kids who were exposed to the preservative between birth and 20 months of age had slightly lower odds of developing the condition, although the researchers could not explain that result.

“This is a very reassuring study,” said Dr. Michael J. Smith, a pediatrician at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky who was not involved in the research.

“These data show that you could receive a thimerosal vaccine and not be concerned about it.”

Smith, who said he has a fully vaccinated two-month-old at home, noted that autism rates have continued to rise, although thimerosal has been removed from all routine childhood vaccines, except flu shots.

For parents who remain concerned about thimerosal in the flu shots, he said there are alternatives without the preservative, such as FluMist, a nasal spray that can be used in children aged two and older.

Some parents have also worried that giving too many shots at once, or in children who are too young, could cause mental problems. Smith said studies had dispelled those concerns one by one.

“There is no credible evidence” for a link between vaccines and autism, he told Reuters Health.

SOURCE: http://link.reuters.com/gas77m Pediatrics, online September 13, 2010.

These sorts of things, sadly, need to be repeated over and over again because, in my experience, when those on the pro-science & reason side go silent, that is precisely when the pseudoscientific nuts will come crawling out of whatever rock they’ve crawled under.  And you need to look no further than the comment section on this article to see what sort of entrenched, conspiracy-mongering mentality we are dealing with from those in the anti-vaccination movement: they immediately dismiss one of the most comprehensive studies on the matter by making insinuations that the government is in league with Big Pharma or whomever to do… something.  I’ve rarely been told be the anti-vax conspiracy theorists what this “something” is supposed to be, but we can all be assured that it’s definitely something sinister…

In short: against such dangerous nonsense & irrationality, we must be ever vigilant, folks.  Ever vigilant – because if we are silent, these loons win the argument by default.

Posted in conspiracy theories, media woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Have Fun PWNing Anti-Vax Nut Wakefield: Add Your Own Caption!

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 28, 2010

As if the whole debacle of anti-vaccination guru Andrew Wakefield’s pathetic attendance at his rally (only about 100 people showed up – some “rally”) wasn’t hilarious enough, the following photo was acquired from the Age of Autism website…

It seems that the Countering Age of Autism blog has a “fill in the caption” contest underway to see who can come up with the most snarky caption making fun of Wakefield.  Have at it! 🙂

Posted in humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Skeptical PWNage of Darth Wakefield & His Anti-Vax Woosters Continues

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 28, 2010

I just want to provide a quick follow up to yesterday’s post about how the Women Thinking Free Foundation’s (WTFF) crew from the nascent Hug Me! campaign skeptically ninjaed the anti-vaccination rally hosting uber-douchebag Andrew Wakefield. It seems that since I blogged about it, the story has exploded all over the skeptical blogosphere, with the famous photo of Wakefield getting skeptically pwned making many appearances 🙂

The two skeptical ninjas shown here on either side of Andrew “Douchebag” Wakefield are Jamie Bernstein and Bruce Critelli.  In the words of another of my skeptical colleagues, these two “are the mayors of Balls City!”  Indeed 😀

Jamie recounts her experience of the rally over at The Friendly Atheist – feel free to follow Jamie via Twitter .@UAJamie

and

Bruce shares some really interesting video he shot at the rally

Of Bruce’s video, the most unnerving part was, to me, a story that Wakefield told the “crowd” (less than 100 people is hardly a crowd) with one woman who was talking about her son…

About 15 years ago a mother from London approached him and said “Do not judge me too harshly Dr. Wakefield, but when I die I am taking my son with me. You see, I’m all he has. I’m the only one who loves him.”

“I didn’t judge,” said Wakefield. “I was moved by the love that a mother must have for her child that she would take his life rather than have him fall upon a society that really didn’t give a damn.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Skeptics PWN Anti-Vax Scumbag Wakefield at His Own Rally

Posted by mattusmaximus on May 27, 2010

**Update: Check out my follow-up post for more news, photos, and video of this event.

============

Well, congratulate me folks – I’m now officially part of a squad of skeptical ninjas 🙂

Today, there was an anti-vaccination rally in Chicago, and the king of anti-vax woo & nonsenseAndrew Wakefield himself – showed up.  I suppose he decided to hang with his anti-vax homies here in the U.S. seeing as how he’s essentially lost his license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom because of his fraudulent work there.

Anyway, the new skeptical group I’m part of, the Women Thinking Free Foundation (WTFF), caught wind of this wave of woo headed our way (we’re based in Chicago) and we decided, with two days notice, to mobilize and counter protest… and we did!  I did not personally attend the counter protest, as I had to teach today, but I and many others were working behind the scenes to help organize it.

The word went out like wildfire across the Internet – via email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and message boards – and we were able to gather a group of about 10 people there.  In addition, our WTFF ninjas were able to hand out plenty of pro-vaccine literature to passers-by who might have otherwise thought that Wakefield and his ilk weren’t batcrap crazy.  Here are some examples of our handouts we whipped up as part of WTFF’s new “Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated!” campaign…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments »

Vaccine Court Finds No Link to Autism

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 13, 2010

Breaking news just in from CNN – good news for science-based medicine and skeptics, bad news for alt-med, anti-vaccine nutwads like Jenny McCarthy. It’s interesting what happens when these issues are hashed out in a court where evidence & logical reasoning are required for argumentation, as opposed to the usual overly-emotional & irrational nonsense spouted by the anti-vaxxers in public.  Of course, just wait until they start moaning about how the vaccine court is part of the Big Pharma / Big Medicine / Big Government conspiracy, and that’s why they lost (and definitely not because they are deluded or driven by ideology – nah, couldn’t be that!)

What is the vaccine court?

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established in 1988. Through the program, known as the “vaccine court,” people who believe they suffered injury as a result of compulsory childhood vaccines may petition the federal government for monetary damages. The claims are decided by the Office of Special Masters, a part of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Here’s the article from CNN…

Vaccine Court Finds No Link to Autism

A federal court ruled Friday that the evidence supporting an alleged causal link between autism and a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines is unpersuasive, and that the families of children diagnosed with autism are not entitled to compensation.

Special masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing three test cases and finding all the claims wanting.

“Petitioners’ theory of vaccine-related causation is scientifically unsupportable,” wrote Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith in her conclusion about William P. Mead, whose parents, George and Victoria Mead, had brought one of the suits.

“In the absence of a sound medical theory causally connecting William’s received vaccines to his autistic condition, the undersigned cannot find the proposed sequence of cause and effect to be logical or temporally appropriate. Having failed to satisfy their burden of proof under the articulated legal standard, petitioners cannot prevail on their claim of vaccine-related causation.”

Read more…

But if you think this is the final word on the subject, think again – also a recent related story from CNN…

Supreme Court accepts appeal over vaccine safety

Parents who say that a range of preventive vaccines given their young children can cause serious health problems will have their appeal heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justices Monday agreed to decide whether drug makers can be sued outside a special judicial forum set up by Congress in 1986 to address specific claims about safety. The so-called vaccine court has handled such disputes and was designed to ensure a reliable, steady supply of the drugs by reducing the threat of lawsuits against pharmaceutical firms.

The questions in the latest case are whether such liability claims can proceed, if the vaccine-related injuries could have been avoided by better product design, and if federal officials had approved another, allegedly safer drug. Oral arguments in the dispute will be held in the fall.

Read more…

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

H1N1 Flu Update from the SGU

Posted by mattusmaximus on December 6, 2009

This weekend I listened to a special podcast by the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (SGU) on the H1N1 influenza virus & associated vaccine.  The podcast features Dr. Steven Novella, Dr. David Gorski, Dr. Mark Crislip, and Dr. Joe Albietz discussing everything flu related, not just for the H1N1 strain getting all the attention but also about the standard seasonal flu.  I highly recommend downloading and listening to this very informative podcast, and I further suggest that you pass it on…

Posted in medical woo | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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