A Paediatrician’s Series on Vaccinations

Orac has issued a real challenge for science communication that is asking for ideas from framers on how to address the public health issue of anti-vaccination propaganda. Commenter DLC has suggested that bloggers should go through the vaccination schedule and discuss the rationale for each one in plain language.

Such a series has been done several times. One of the best (and certainly most accessible) series was this:

On My Left Shoulder discusses the successful vaccination programme against smallpox.

The Can from Hell discusses polio and why prevention is better than management.

Go Home and Die discusses Haemophilus influenzae type b and vaccination.

Strangling Angel discusses diphtheria.

Risus Sardonicus discusses tetanus and why vaccination may be a good idea.

The Cough of One Hundred Days discusses whooping cough vaccination.

Dew Drops on Rose Petals discusses chicken pox or varicella vaccine.

The Chicken Pox Vaccine Sucks! – speaks for itself.

Yellow Alert discusses the hepatitis B vaccine and Pediarix.

Superstition ain’t the way discusses the measles, mups and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

There are also some reviews of some work by Stephanie Cave and Sherri Tenpenny.

Stephanie Cave: Philosopher Queen reviews Stephanie Cave’s What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Childrens Vaccinations.

The Tenpenny Opera reviews the anti-vaccination work of Sherri Tenpenny.

If anyone can suggest a comparable and accessible overview of the ‘missing’ vaccinations such as meningitis C or pneumoccal then we would be grateful. Until such time, we offer the BBC report on the success of the UK meningitis C and pneumococcal vaccination programme:

It is estimated that meningitis C vaccination has saved 500 lives since 2000 and the pneumococcal vaccine, introduced in 2006, has prevented 470 deaths or serious illness in young children.

We also recommend the Vaccine Education Center of the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. They offer A Look at Each Vaccine which is excellent. We should mention that lots of people have recommended Do Vaccines Cause That? as remarkably clear and down-to-earth on vaccine issues.

Update July 20: CDC FAQ for common mis-conceptions about vaccines.

Update August 14: Infectious disease specialist Dr Mark Crislip has compiled a briefing list for the morbidity and mortality of preventable childhood illness.

[A] brief tour of the childhood vaccines and review the morbidity and mortality caused by vaccine preventable diseases and the efficacy of the vaccines in preventing these diseases.

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14 Comments

Filed under children, vaccination, vaccines

14 responses to “A Paediatrician’s Series on Vaccinations

  1. DLC

    Well. shows that I haven’t been reading the right blogs for long enough. This is a good starting point for dealing with the anti-vaccination crowd.
    In my opinion, much of the anti-vaccination hysteria is due to ignorance and conspiratorial thinking. There really isn’t much one can do about conspiratorial thinking, but ignorance can be cured with a strong dose of good, solid knowledge.

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  3. There is some very good material about vaccinations but it is nowhere in the Google rankings (I know there are links for this but can’t find them right now).

    It is amazing how powerful fixed, wrong beliefs can be. In one form and another, anti-vax sentiment now has a venerable history since the days of Jenner. Both the UK and US saw the formation of anti-vaccination societies and I think both have had periods of history where people were fiercely opposed to public health measures.

  4. HCN

    I am glad to see that Flea’s posts on vaccines have been saved. Unfortunately the comments have been lost (one woman claimed that tetanus could be avoided by merely cleaning the wound).

    Dr. Flea had to leave his blog because he was incredibly silly and blogged on a medical malpractice trial where he was a defendant. Proof positive that doctors are human and can have serious lapses of common sense.

  5. HCN – nice to see you here. Flea put up a very good series of posts that are eminently readable on these topics.

  6. HCN

    Thank you for the welcome. I am presently reading the very interesting and well written book called “Panama Fever” by Matthew Parker. Lots on the effects and eradication of yellow fever (I got my first yellow fever vaccine shortly after being born in Gorgas Hospital in Panama). As an Army brat I’ve been jabbed more than most, and I seem to be okay.

    By the way, today another very readable article on vaccines by an actual infectious disease doctor was posted here:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=186

  7. Some time ago I asked someone whose father had been in the US Navy and had had a fair share of postings around the world what the Navy equivalent of Army Brat was – and she said that it was Junior Ratings.

    I’ll edit Dr Crislip’s piece into the main post because it is readable – thank you.

  8. Absolutely nothing to do with vaccines, but…

    …for anyone interested in tropical diseases and/or examples of scientific / medical hubris, a good read is Gordon Harrison’s Mosquitoes, malaria, and man: A history of the hostilities since 1880.

    (Now out of print, but should be in many Univ and public libraries, plus available 2nd hand)

    It is a bit dry and scholarly in parts, but makes a fascinating read especially for its account of the doomed “War on Malaria” via trying to eradicate the vector, i.e. the pesky Anopheles.

    – The lack of success of which endeavour emphasises once again why we DO need the vaccine researchers to go on trying to make a malaria vaccine, elusive though it has been.

    Of course, if vaccines continue to be demonized, then there is always the chance that vaccine research will become something that scientists, doctors and manufacturers prefer not to bother with.

  9. HCN

    dvnutrix said “and she said that it was Junior Ratings.”

    The generic form is “military brat”, but that is perfectly accurate. We are an odd bunch, having survived several years of being without a parental unit (who is overseas being shot at), or changing schools (I graduated from the 9th school district I attended).

    Dr. Aust, that sounds like a very good read. William McNeill’s “Plagues and Peoples” is also a bit dry at times, but on the whole was fascinating.

    By the way, I have survived another mosquito born disease: dengue fever. The trick is that surviving it once does not confer immunity, but makes one more vulnerable to a deadly form of dengue fever. Yikes!

  10. Hi HCN

    Interested to hear you were a military brat. I personally know one distinguished (US) scientist from such a B/G, though doubtless there are many.

    Penny just dropped re. “Gorgas Hospital” as your birthplace – of course Gorgas was the US army doc trying to eradicate Yellow Fever. The Mosquitoes… book recounts how Ronald Ross tried a similar thing with malaria as “Army malaria supremo” in British India, to essentially zero effect. The reasons for the differing successes of Gorgas and Ross is part of what the book is about.

    Impressed by your encounter w dengue fever. Dengue turned up on some list I read just recently of “most common neglected diseases” (i.e. most common diseases that are not much studied, or much effort put into cures and treatments, since first-world folk don’t get them and hence there isn’t any real money in it).

  11. HCN

    The Gorgas Hospital name was dropped on purpose.

    There is an active work on creating a dengue fever vaccine, as it has changed over the years to become very nasty. Basically causing non-stop bleeding everywhere, and having had it once does not guarantee one would be protected from its other nastier forms:
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/

    Just checked the wiki article on Ronald Ross, and noted that he had several contributions to applied math, since I plan to study that soon — I will be sure to check out that book. Thanks.

    (by the way the book “Panama Fever” describes what makes the mosquito that transmits malaria much harder to eradicate than the one that transmits yellow fever, the latter preferred clean water near humans so tins of fresh water were left out and then after the larvae were floating on top they were summarily dumped on the ground).

  12. HCN

    My city library has one copy of the Mosquitoes book and I just placed a hold on it. I love being able to use card catalogs on computer, and that they will deliver it to my neighborhood library!

    I also found a PBS/BBC/Carlton TV documentary called “Malaria: Fever Wars”, I asked for that one too.

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