The medical community has been raising a lot of concerns over the last few years about the low vaccine rates in our county. The non-scientific hysteria over vaccines, based on information that has been debunked by science and promoted in such local media as the Townsend Newsletter, poses a serious health threat to our community that, so far, we have been lucky to avoid. In New York’s ultra Orthodox community, however, the price is starting to come home, as this article in Vox describes. This goes along with the news story from just the other day, that a 26 year old woman who worked on Fox News and would rail against vaccinations, died of complications from flu. It’s been 100 years since we had the last serious outbreak of flu, and like many lessons, subsequent generations have people like these unfortunate folks, that have forgotten or never clearly understood the price that was paid by not having a flu vaccine back then. Millions died. We hope that we won’t go that far before the anti-vaccine crowd retreats into the dustbin of history. And we sincerely hope it won’t be because they or their families paid the price for their misguided beliefs.
A small side story is that my grandmother became a nurse because of the flu epidemic of 1918, and she ended up meeting my grandfather because of her work. I heard the concern in her voice when she would talk about how horrible it was. She witnessed, in her career, the enormous benefits that vaccinations of flu and polio had on saving her patients. She also saw the astonishing benefits of anti-antibiotics, a true miracle drug to her, as she had witnessed so many children die of various bacterial infections.
Bre Payton, a conservative writer and frequent FOX News contributor has died of H1N1 (swine flu) virus (and perhaps meningitis) at the age of 26. Ms. Payton was an outspoken critic of vaccinations. We would assume she did not get a flu vaccination. This highlights the ongoing battle over vaccinations and the predicted outcome of ignoring the warnings that flu is still a serious illness. Port Townsend is a hot bed of anti-vaccination activity and our county has one of the lower vaccination rates in the state. Only 77% of our K-12 have been completely immunized. This compares to King or Kitsap that both have over 90% of their children completely immunized.
What is causing AFM? This is bizarre disease is increasing in the number of cases, and apparently is happening in Washington State.
Hayden Werdal was born “perfectly healthy.” He caught a nasty cold at age 14, and now, four years later, he’s considered a paraplegic and needs a ventilator. Werdal, of Bremerton, has a rare and mysterious illness that’s left Washington families reeling. AFM is spiking, with 127 confirmed or reported cases nationwide this year, including eight in Washington. – Seattle Times
Just today, another case in Yakima:
While this is emerging, Trump has cut the budget at the Center for Disease Control. According to Politifact:
“Among other changes, Trump’s budget would cut $138 million from the program dedicated to chronic disease prevention and health promotion, cut $59.9 million from programs studying “emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases,” and $46 million from a program called “Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health.” A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people.
Remember this as you decide who to vote for. A vote for Republicans is a vote to continue cutting the one agency that might help find a cause for this emerging illness.
Flu shots are cheap and available. Time to one. Here’s a story of someone who didn’t get the shot and the outcome of a bad case of flu. We have been very lucky that we have not seen another outbreak of a virus as bad as the 1918 Spanish Influenza. My grandmother started her nursing career with that outbreak and it colored the rest of her life. Here’s a story, similar to ones she told me growing up.
Last Year, The Flu Put Him In A Coma. This Year He’s Getting The Shot
A medical provider I know in B.C. has sent me information about the newly discovered measles outbreak north of the border.
Measles warning issued at Metro Vancouver high school . It’s the third recent case of measles in Metro Vancouver after cases were reported at Vancouver International Airport and Moody Park Pool in New Westminster.
Travelers are being alerted to one case of measles in an infectious individual who traveled through Vancouver International Airport (YVR) twice in recent weeks.
- July 30: Air Canada flight 0004 departing from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) at 4:05 p.m. and arriving at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 9:25 a.m. The passenger with measles was at YVR prior to boarding the next flight.
- July 30: Air Canada Jazz flight 8125 departing Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 1:50 p.m. and arriving at Portland International Airport (PDX) at 2:47 p.m.
- Aug 6: Alaska Airlines flight 2536 departing Portland International Airport (PDX) at 9:45 a.m. and arriving at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) at 10:55 a.m.
The individual also traveled on a cruise ship to Alaska:
- Aug 6: Norwegian Cruise Lines (voyage number 2018080806), departed Vancouver at 4 p.m. with a destination of Seward, Alaska.
For more on this story, go to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control web site.
And more on the anti-vaccination myths. Worth subscribing to Dr. Barrett’s blog.
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There is no clear evidence that debunking anti-vaccination myths has a significant effect on anti-vaccination attitudes. To explore why this is so, Australian researchers surveyed people in 24 countries ionn six continents. Based on responses from 5,323 participants, the researchers found that anti-vaccination attitudes scores were associated with:
- conspiratorial thinking
- reactance (the tendency to have low tolerance for impingements on one’s freedom)
- disgust toward blood and needles
- individualistic and hierarchical as opposed to egalitarian and communitarian worldview
These relationships were not strong among respondents in Asian and South American countries, but in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, U.K., and the U.S.A., beliefs about conspiracies were found to account for 17% to 27% of the variation in anti-vaccination attitude. Gender and education level were not significantly related to anti-vaccination attitude, but conservative political ideology and younger age were each found to be weakly related. [Hornsey MJ and others. The psychological roots of anti-vaccination attitudes: A 24-nation investigation. Health Psychology 37:307-315, 2018]
Interesting retraction on a study that was jumped on by the anti-vaccine crowd.
The open-access journal Scientific Reports has retracted a 2016 article that claimed to provide scientific support for anecdotal reports alleging that the human papilloma virus vaccine Gardasil had side effects such headaches, fatigue, and poor concentration. The article also claimed that Gardasil administered to mice damages regions of the brain to induce adverse reactions. Soon after it was published, the Respectful Insolence blog blasted its design and the evidence presented. [Orac. Torturing more mice in the name of anti-vaccine pseudoscience. Respectful Insolence Blog, November 18, 2016] The retraction announcement stated:
The Publisher is retracting this Article because the experimental approach does not support the objectives of the study. The study was designed to elucidate the maximum implication of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine (Gardasil) in the central nervous system. However, the co-administration of pertussis toxin with high-levels of HPV vaccine is not an appropriate approach to determine neurological damage from HPV vaccine alone. The Authors do not agree with the retraction.
Although critics welcome the retraction, some have chastised the journal for taking so long to do it. [Normile D. Journal retracts paper claiming neurological damage from HPV vaccine. Science, May 11, 2018] And, despite the retraction, the full text of the retracted article is still on the journal’s Web site.
HPV vaccination can prevent most of 30,000 annual cases of cancer in the U.S. caused by some types of HPV. It can prevent cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus as well as oropharyngeal cancer. HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact, oral sex, and most commonly through vaginal or anal sex. HPV infection can resolve on its own, but can also develop for many years before symptoms first appear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends HPV vaccination for girls and boy at ages 11 or 12 years, but it can begin as early as age 9. For dosage schedules, see HPV vaccines: Vaccinating your preteen or teen. CDC, updated Aug. 24, 2017.
Consumer Health Digest