Category Archive: Vaccines

Russian bot accounts spread misinformation about vaccines

New research published in the American Journal of Public Health found some unsettling trends in online health communication. The same Russian Twitter accounts that promoted division ahead of the 2016 Presidential election were also responsible for spreading false information and escalating hostility and derision in the debate around vaccines. Some anti-vaccine messaging encouraged users to click links to malicious websites, while pro-vaccine messages served to turn the vaccine “debate” into a wedge issue. The bots also attempted to sew the idea that safe vaccines are only available to the elite. The study’s authors wrote, "This is consistent with a strategy of promoting...

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Low Vaccine Rates in 15 Metro Areas Put Americans at Risk for Epidemic

New research published in the open access journal PLOS Medicine shows that in states where parents can obtain a religious or philosophical exemption from vaccinating their children, parents are increasingly choosing not to vaccinate. The number of kindergarteners who have never received a measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is increasing, and children who are not fully vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommendations reached 27.8 percent in 2015. Researchers also honed in on vaccination rates at the county level, identifying the following 15 metropolitan areas for having the most nonmedical vaccination exemptions: Seattle (WA) Spokane (WA) Tacoma (WA) Portland (OR) Phoenix...

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Fighting the Flu

At least 30 children have died from the flu this year. And while the exact count of adults won’t be known for some time, dozens of deaths in North Carolina are being attributed to this year’s outbreak, according to a new piece by the director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald.  According to Dr.  Darria Long Gillespie, “Studies suggest that among people who die from the flu, anywhere from 75 to 95 percent of them were not vaccinated. The flu vaccine is a crucial tool in protecting all of us from the flu and its complications." This is another blow to the...

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What’s the Worst that Could Happen If We Ditch Vaccines?

Last month, researchers with Stanford and Baylor Universities answered “what could go wrong?” if parents in the U.S. broadly gave in to the anti-science rhetoric of the anti-vaccination movement. The researchers used data on real measles outbreaks monitored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a mathematical model predicting how many children would contract measles if fewer and fewer parents choose to vaccinate their children. The authors estimate that even a 5 percent decline in the number of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) shots issued could result in three times as many measles cases every year. Those in...

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Happy Birthday to the Rabies Vaccine

Though we celebrated America’s birthday earlier this week, today, another anniversary deserves recognition. 132 years ago, French scientist Louis Pasteur first administered his experimental rabies vaccine to a young boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog. TIME reported: "One hot July morning in 1885, feverish little Joseph Meister was dragged by his frantic mother through the streets of Paris in search of an unknown scientist who, according to rumors, could prevent rabies. For nine-year-old Joseph had been bitten in 14 places by a huge, mad dog and in a desperate attempt to cheat death, his mother had fled from their home...

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PETA Wants the U.S to Stop Funding Animal Research. Should We?

The animal activist group, PETA, recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging our country to stop funding medically important animal research. PETA attempted to pin one of the biggest issues in modern research – the fact that many experiments can’t be replicated – solely on the fact that we look to animals to guide scientific knowledge. HHS threw some major shade in its response to the group, casually name-dropping fifteen “critical discoveries” in human medicine that all originated from animal research. Certainly, not every species serves as an appropriate model for medical research. For example, the gender of many reptiles,...

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Court Rules: Scientific Evidence is No Good in Europe

Yesterday, the European Union’s highest court ruled in favor of allowing lawsuits that allege vaccines to be the cause of an illness, even if zero scientific evidence suggests a link between the two. Understandably, the scientific community is outraged, calling the decision “illogical and confusing to the public." By the court’s reasoning, if a previously healthy individual with no family history of a disease were to exhibit symptoms of a disease in a timely manner after receiving a vaccine, it’s proof enough that the vaccine was its cause. Similarly, there is no scientific evidence to show that reading as a child causes blindness, or...

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Anti-Vaxxer “Doesn’t Feel Responsible” for Measles Outbreak

Andrew Wakefield, father of the anti-vaccine movement, “[doesn’t] feel responsible at all” for the ongoing measles outbreak in Minnesota. We beg to differ. The largest ever measles outbreak in the state’s history is propagating among a tight-knit Somali immigrant community – the same community Wakefield visited at least three times in 2010 and 2011 to warn parents against vaccinating their children. His message clearly took root, because 92 percent of the 50 children affected in the current outbreak were either never vaccinated against measles, or did not finish the vaccine's full course. Wakefield and others who peddle the falsehood that the measles, mumps, and rubella...

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Keep Marching for Science

This weekend, science advocates in over 500 cities celebrated Earth Day by taking to the streets to March for Science. Emerging from the comfort of our laboratories might be a good thing. Despite the fact that Pew Research surveys show Americans invest a high degree of trust in scientists – far more than the news, elected officials, or even community leaders – 83 percent of Americans cannot name a single living scientist. (A few recognizable names for your personal reference: Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, James Watson, Richard Dawkins.) Americans appreciate “science” in the abstract, yet common chemistries and technologies have whipped many parents and hasty health reporters into a fear-filled...

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Vaccines Help Prevent Cancer

We often think of cancer resulting from environmental factors like excess sun exposure or smoking. But, interestingly, some viruses can cause cancer too. In 1964, researchers discovered the first virus capable of causing cancer in humans. Epstein-Barr Virus, which causes mononucleosis (commonly called “mono” or “the kissing disease”), is also the culprit behind certain forms of lymphoma, as well as some stomach cancers and cancers of the nose and throat. Half a century later, seven viruses are now known to cause 10 to 15 percent of human cancers worldwide. In some cases, certain types of cancer are almost entirely attributed to viral infection – such is the...

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