Daily Clips

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The Anti-Vaccine and Anti-GMO Movements Are Inextricably Linked and Cause Preventable Suffering
May 18, 2017
"The thoroughly answered question of whether vaccines cause autism isn't really a question outside of conspiracy-theorist circles. The body of evidence shows that vaccination has eradicated smallpox and vastly reduced suffering and death from other diseases, and that vaccines don't cause autism, cancer, dementia, or long term health problems, and that any minute risk is vastly outweighed by benefits to individuals and society. Yet with the backing of prominent leaders like Robert DeNiro and Robert Kennedy Jr., anti-vaccine groups fuel common narratives that keep herd immunity down, directly leading to suffering and death. Now with Donald Trump embracing vaccine skeptics, the anti-vaccine movement has earned a hallowed place on the shelf next to other tinfoil hat clad schools of thought. The question of the safety of genetically engineered crops (GMOs) has been answered just as thoroughly, and the anti-GMO movement deserves its own place on the same shelf, not just for being wrong but for its role in unconscionable suffering."
Anti-vaccine activists are playing with fire in Minnesota
May 19, 2017
"'They are everywhere. Like, every event, every forum.' This is how anti-vaccine activists were described by a community outreach worker in Minneapolis, where the Somali-American population was systematically and incessantly warned against vaccines. Activists including Andrew Wakefield - who published a fraudulent paper in the late '90s pushing the vaccine-autism myth - made multiple visits to the Minneapolis area to engage a community that was trying to find its place in society. The campaign led to an increase in mistrust of vaccines, particularly measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, among Somali-American parents, as well as dangerously low vaccination rates - 41 percent among 24-to-35-month-olds, according to one estimate. You don't have to be an epidemiologist like me to comprehend the consequences of such drastic drops in vaccination rates. Minnesota is now experiencing its worst outbreak in 30 years. It's centered among Somali-Americans. But the consequences of all this extend far beyond measles infections and far beyond Minnesota. Measles is not a trivial disease. The virus that causes measles is one of the most infectious human pathogens. Before the introduction of routine measles vaccination, an estimated 3 million to 4 million cases of measles occurred every year in the United States."
City, county health officials to hold measles forums for Somali residents
The Columbus Dispatch (OH)
May 18, 2017
"Local health officials are hosting forums in Columbus this week after a recent measles outbreak among Somali populations in Minnesota. Columbus has the second-largest Somali population in the United States behind Minneapolis, and health officials fear a possible outbreak in central Ohio as families in both cities visit one another this summer. Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health officials will meet with doctors, Somali leaders and community members today and Saturday to discuss the outbreak and how parents can protect their families by getting vaccinations and knowing the signs and symptoms. 'We are primarily concerned about children and adults who have not had their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines,' said Hibo H. Noor, health program manager with the Office of Minority Health at Columbus Public Health. 'We want to make sure to educate the community.' Dr. Mysheika Williams Roberts, medical director and assistant health commissioner with Columbus Public Health, said diseases are too easily spread."
Families speak up on autism summit
Stowe Reporter (VT)
May 18, 2017
"Considering the controversy seething around a summit May 20 at Stowe High School about autism and neuro-development disorders, it could be easy to assign political weight to the decision to attend, or to stay away. For people in the autism arena, though, like Tim Callahan, Jess Poirier and Janet Ottas, the choice has nothing to do with politics; it's fiercely personal. Callahan's son Owen is 3 and a half years old. He is autistic. While verbal and active, Owen can't string together sentences on his own. He's not yet potty-trained and does not interact with other children the way a neurotypical child does. Janet Ottas lives in Stowe. She has a 25-year-old son, T.J., with autism. T.J. lives at home with Janet but can handle many day-to-day activities on his own, like doing laundry and taking a shower. Jess Poirier is the founder of Vermont Autism Network and the mother of 6-year-old Desiree, who was diagnosed with autism as a 1-year-old. Callahan plans to attend the summit, titled Hope and Healing for Autism and Neuro-development Disorders."
Texas House tentatively approves bill to further outsource foster care, using ‘community-based’ lead
The Dallas Morning News
May 18, 2017
"A major child-welfare bill that, among other things, would further outsource the care of Texas' abused children won tentative approval from the House on Thursday... Another key feature of the bill, calling for speedy medical exams of new foster children, underwent a major rewrite on the House floor. That increased strong odds that once the chamber gives final approval, which could come as early as Friday, the Senate will force a House-Senate conference committee to be named. It would iron out the chambers' differences... But Frank couldn't dissuade fellow Republicans from gutting a major feature of the Senate-passed bill - medical examinations of new foster children within three to five business days of their removal from their birth families. Parents' rights and anti-vaccine groups and their House allies trampled the idea, championed by bill author Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. As altered Thursday, the bill would bar physicians from administering vaccines to children in the first couple of weeks before a 'show-cause' hearing determines if they will stay in state care."
Mumps cases on the rise in Central Texas
May 18, 2017
"The number of mumps cases roses to 94 in the Dallas area this week. At the same time, the Department of State Health Services confirms numbers in Central Texas are rising too -- five in Travis County in March and April, and two cases in Hays County. Public health experts say the MMR vaccine is the key to stopping the outbreak from reaching the Austin area, but even if you got the shots, you may not be immune to the mumps. That's because the MMR vaccine is 88% effective, meaning about 1 in 10 people won't develop the antibodies to fight off the diseases and won't know it. At Austin Public Health's Far South Clinic, the health care workers are in the business of stopping preventable diseases. That includes mumps. 'We have seen a large outbreak in the Dallas area, in Cedar, uh Cedar Hill,' said public health educator Colleen Christian."
DOH announces 5 new mumps cases, growing total now at 47
May 18, 2017
"The Hawaii State Department of Health announced five new cases of mumps Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 47 this year. The DOH says the new cases involved children and adults located on Oahu. None of the patients required hospitalization. Numbers of confirmed cases began to rise in March when the DOH was made aware of nine people with the viral infection. Some 10 DOE schools have also been reportedly affected by mumps cases. In December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the country was in the midst of its worst mumps outbreak in a decade. From Jan. 1 and April 22 of this year, 42 states and Washington, D.C. reported mumps infections in 2,570 people."
Mumps: 5 cases reported in Syracuse
Outbreak News Today
May 18, 2017
"The Onondaga County Health Department received reports of five cases of mumps in Onondaga County over the past few days. Four cases were reported in Syracuse University students, while the fifth case is reported in a local high school student. All cases are still under investigation, and parents and students of these two institutions will receive notifications. Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health explained, 'It is important to remember that mumps is a vaccine preventable disease and because of high vaccination rates mumps is no longer very common in the United States. While sporadic cases can still occur among vaccinated individuals, the best way to protect against mumps is to get the measles-mumps-rubella shot (MMR shot).' As mumps outbreaks have been occurring on college campuses across New York State and the US, all healthcare providers should be on the lookout for mumps among students returning home from college for the summer break."
Two new mumps cases in Orange County are unrelated to Chapman outbreak
The Orange County Register (CA)
May 18, 2017
"Two new mumps cases have been diagnosed that are unrelated to the Chapman University outbreak, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Thursday, May 18. The two patients, both in their 20s, did not have contact with the 13 Chapman students who fell ill between January and April 18, but had close contact with each other. One became sick in April and the other earlier this month. Neither had traveled outside the country and public health officials are still determining if they had been vaccinated. Dr. Matt Zahn, the county's medical director for epidemiology, said Orange County has had 17 mumps cases so far this year. The county usually averages fewer than five cases a year, with most of those the result of international travel. Zahn said in an email that while it's encouraging that Chapman has not had a new case in a month, it's too soon to say the outbreak is over. The incubation period for mumps is up to 25 days and he said at least two incubation periods should pass."
Whooping cough outbreak reaches 21 cases in Lower Valley
Yakima Herald (WA)
May 19, 2017
"The Yakima Health District is monitoring an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the Lower Valley. In the past three weeks, 21 cases of pertussis have been reported in people ranging from less than a year old to middle age, Health District director of disease control Melissa Sixberry said. The majority of the cases have occurred in children ages 10 to 18. Cases have popped up in the Granger and Sunnyside school districts, she said."
6-year-old dies from meningitis, family stunned, left with unanswered questions
May 18, 2017
"A 6-year-old California boy has died after a bout with meningitis, leaving his grief-stricken and stunned family with unanswered questions about how it could have happened. Jayden Brizuela, an only child, died on Tuesday, but he had been sick since last month, his family told KRON 4 TV. The boy wasn't diagnosed with bacterial meningitis until last week. 'He had a cold and he was taken to a pediatrician, and they just prescribed some medication,' the boy's aunt, Monica Pinheiro Aguilar, told KRON. He was also in and out of urgent care facilities and emergency rooms before he was correctly diagnosed. The child seemed to get better, then would relapse, Aguilar said. This went on for several weeks, until he was finally diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a potentially deadly infection. The family told the news outlet they can't understand why it took so long and so many medical professionals to correctly identify the illness."
Teen recovers from bacterial meningitis
May 18, 2017
"Jordan Matukewicz is recovering from a battle with multiple medical complications including bacterial meningitis. She considers herself lucky and doctors say it's a miracle she made it through a vigorous recovery process. They say early detection may have saved her life. 'It was a ride,' said the 18-year-old as she reflects on her month's long battle with bacterial meningitis... 'definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do, thus far.' The medical journey all started in late January after a positive screening for convalescent mononucleosis. Then in early February, doctors diagnosed her with lupus and on Friday February 17th, Jordan said she wasn't feeling well, 'I just felt very really nauseated and joint ache and I had lupus symptoms before that so I thought I was just having a lupus attack.' But she wasn't. The next day the symptoms intensified her mom says this wasn't just lupus as a rash appeared. 'So that was really the game-changer for us, when we noticed the rash that was very unusual-we haven't seen that before,' said Jordan's mother Cristina Matukewicz."
As hopes for polio eradication rise, the endgame gets complicated, and a vaccine runs short
May 19, 2017
"The world appears to be on the verge of finally putting an end to polio. But the endgame could get complicated. For more than a year there has been a severe shortage of the injectable polio vaccine known as IPV. Manufacturers have been racing to overcome production problems and hope to be back to full output early next year. But the shortage could be repeated in a few years, and at a more critical time, public health officials acknowledge. 'We may not have enough IPV for the whole world to use,' Michel Zaffran, the World Health Organization's director of polio eradication, told STAT in an interview. The WHO recommends children vaccinated with the injectable product get two doses, and initially there may not be enough to give all children two full doses, he said. In the US and other developed countries, injectable polio vaccine is actually given in a combination shot with other childhood vaccines; the current shortage has not affected those supplies. But in the developing world, where the risk of polio is greater, most children are protected with a much cheaper oral polio vaccine."
COLUMN: Ask the expert: Are multi-disease vaccines safe or not?
Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
May 18, 2017
"Question: I've heard that multiple vaccines might not be safe for infants and children; Dutchess County makes these immunizations available through its clinics. Who's right? Answer: Getting multiple immunizations against communicable diseases has proven safe and effective, according to our expert. Expert: Joyce Maranga is the Immunization Program coordinator for Dutchess County's Department of Behavioral & Community Health. She bears responsibility for extending the availability of disease-preventing vaccinations to children and adults - often at no cost to them. At several centers around Poughkeepsie, the Medicaid-eligible, uninsured or under-insured can qualify for free vaccinations for hepatitis, flu, and among a near-dozen others, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. She dispels the theory that multiple childhood vaccines could be a culprit in autism."
LETTER: Vermont has a history of vaccine reservations
Stowe Reporter (VT)
May 18, 2017
"Given all the talk of how 'Hope and Healing' (May 20 seminar in Stowe) is creating a dilemma for those promoting vaccines, I wonder how many people are aware that vaccination has always been a voluntary procedure in the state of Vermont? And that Vermont citizens have long-held reservations against compulsory vaccination? Indeed, for more than a century (and long before the industry was indemnified from product liability in 1986), this debate has been quite active. For example, in 1912, there was a 'Vigorous Discussion Over Vaccination' (in the era of smallpox) that was captured in the Barre Daily Times Nov. 15, 1912. One can also read about the grave concerns expressed by citizens like F.E. Simpson of Glover, Vt.: He warned about our fundamental rights and liberties being at risk due to medical politics (Orleans County Monitor, Jan. 12, 1921). In more recent times, there was Marcia Bruno's insistence that parents have the ultimate choice when it comes to vaccination for their children... Jennifer Stella, Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice."
An Anti-Vaxx Conference At A Public High School In Vermont Has Sparked A Fight Over Free Speech
BuzzFeed News
May 18, 2017
"A public conference featuring well-known anti-vaccine activists is taking place on Saturday in the public high school of the tiny Vermont town of Stowe, sparking a fierce debate about freedom of speech when it may endanger children. The conference, called 'Hope & Healing for Autism and Neuro-developmental Disorders,' is being billed as a 'natural health conference,' and features some of the biggest names in the widely denounced movement questioning the safety of vaccines, which has been directly linked to the ongoing measles outbreak in Minnesota. Studies have definitively shown that vaccines do not cause autism, one of the central claims of the anti-vaxx movement. Major scientific and medical organizations worldwide, as well as the CDC, have repeatedly stated that vaccines are safe. The all-day event, which costs between $80 to $300 per ticket, is set to take place in the 500-person auditorium at Stowe High School, the biggest gathering place in the resort town with a population of just 4,314. Because there are no conference centers in Stowe, the high school has a policy that allows any community member to use the space for public events."
Understanding the Vaccine Court
The Immunization Partnership - TIP Talk!
May 18, 2017
"Anti-vaccine sentiment is often fed by conspiracy theories, the main one being that the government is deliberately covering up the risks of vaccination. A corollary of that theory goes like this: You can tell the government is doing this because it has a secret vaccine court that quietly hands out millions of dollars in hush money to the many people whose vaccines caused autism. Like many myths, this one has a tiny toehold on reality. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, does hear the cases of people who claim to have been harmed in some way by vaccines, and awards damages to those whose complaints have merit. But there is nothing secret about the vaccine court; it was established more than 20 years ago, funded by a tax that's paid by vaccine makers, as a way of compensating those with legitimate vaccine injuries while avoiding costly civil lawsuits that might worry vaccine-makers and lead to shortages. In other words, the vaccine court was created to make sure vaccines would continue to be available, not to hide anything about them. And these are just a couple of the misconceptions about the compensation program."
High School’s Anti-Vaccine Conference Has Sparked Debate In A Tiny, Vermont Town
May 18, 2017
"Hosting a health summit in a small town appears, at first glance, to be an inefficient use of resources. If you're looking to spread a message, why not hold your get-together in a big city, where plenty are able to attend? It's for this reason that a high school's anti-vaccine conference has sparked debate within its local community. Many residents of Stowe, Vermont who believe the town is being used to further an agenda by exploiting a vulnerable population want nothing to do with the event, and are working diligently to oppose it. This to-vaxx-or-not-to-vaxx debate comes at a time when, halfway across the country, a Minnesota measles outbreak linked to the anti-vaccine movement is making waves. Thus, Stowe parents are ready to fight against what they believe is a pretty dangerous message. The conference is to be held at Stowe High School, which often uses its auditorium for outside events, officials claimed. 'We do not pick and choose who gets to use our facilities based on the content of their message,' Tracy Wrend, superintendent of the Lamoille South Supervisory Union, shared with BuzzFeed News."