Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pharma Shill Gambit? You Lose.



Anti-vaxx "activists" seem to be getting more shrill these days as more people are stepping up to the plate to counter anti-vaccine misinformation and register their disgust toward anti-vaxx parents putting others at risk and ushering back diseases such as measles.  The anti-vaccine misinformation groups really detest being called what they are...anti-vaccine and as Dr. Novella eloquently put it:
The anti-vaccine movement cannot win in the arena of science. In fact, they have already lost. So they are desperately trying to change the venue by framing the narrative as one about freedom, choice, and transparency. Ironically they are doing this with misinformation that detracts from transparency and freedom of choice.
Not only have they lost in the arena of science, anti-vaxxers never really understood science nor the scientific method to begin with and as such try to shut down rebuttal by accusing their opponents of being "Pharma Shills".  The Pharma Shill Gambit (coined by Orac many years ago) is an ad hominem tactic used by anti-vaxxers to avoid refuting their opponents' evidence.  Sadly, some notable "professionals" even resort to this tactic.  Hilariously Dr. Bob Sears attempted to to this to Catherina and I years ago when he issued a warning to his (now-defunct) forum readers.
There are rumors that SM and Cath are “secret agents” for vaccine manufacturers, planted here to combat my “anti-vaccine” advice. Although I wouldn’t put it past any company to do just that (makes perfect sense – have a couple of “scientific” parents work the blogs and posts instead of doctors or professionals – some parents would listen more to another parent), I have no evidence that such is the case. SM and Catherina claim they spend hours on this site each week for almost two years now out of the goodness of their hearts. I would love to believe that, but I would also expect such good-hearted people to come across good-heartedly in their posts toward people who question vaccines. That clearly is NOT the case, so that makes me question what type of people they really are.
Dr. Bob Sears even believes, in spite of all evidence against this, that any studies refuting a vaccine autism causation are conducted by pharma shills.  More recently, "journalist" Sharyl Attkisson, an anti-vaccine crusader accused a certain law professor of being a pharma shill via Twitter:
And just within the last couple of days, more shoddy reporting by NBC San Diego unquestioningly allowed notorious anti-vaxx "autism mom" Rebecca Estepp to accuse high school students of being pharma shills because she can't believe that high school students could be intelligent enough to see through anti-vaccine propaganda all on their own.


People accusing their critics of being pharma shills or better yet, pharma magnates do themselves no favours.  Those who do so appear incompetent and deluded enough to believe that this is an effective deflection.  Let's say for the sake of argument that we are pharma shills (granted this requires suspension of disbelief), we criticise or refute a point and are accused of being pharma shills.  How does this, in any way, invalidate our criticism or refutation?  The accuser is admitting that our knowledge is so impressive that we must have received specialised training/education/experience (and we have, just not at the Lord Draconis Zeneca's Académie of Shills and Minions).  The accuser is also admitting that they are out of their depth on the subject matter and are unable to intelligently respond.  Sometimes it is projection; often those who engage in the pharma shill gambit have books, videos and other dubious wares for sale and simply can't imagine people criticising them on their own dime.

So the next time someone accuses you of being a pharma shill, they lose.  Perhaps it's time to honour one of our esteemed "commanders" and call it Orac's Law.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Anti-Vaxxer Ginger Taylor Fancies Herself a Film Critic Now

American anti-vaxx loon Ginger Taylor has written a review (for a very limited value of review) of Invisible Threat, a short documentary made by Carlsbad High School students and due to be released 1 August 2014.  Ms. Taylor attended a limited screening event in her hometown and is very very mad.  I can at least credit her with actually watching the film before trashing it, unlike her anti-vaxx "colleagues" who simply attacked it and the student filmmakers because it was about autism, vaccines and had Dr. Paul Offit in it.

Ms. Taylor's "review" can be found in it's incomprehensive rambling entirety on her blog.  I have no intent to go point by point but the parts of her incoherent, spittle-flecked diatribe that I could decipher bear the need for correction.
It was a flier for the new "hit" vaccine propaganda piece, "Invisible Threat."  (Since when to people who are in a film, review the film? Oh wait... HHS owns patents on the vaccines it licenses and recommends... forgot who I was dealing with.)
I'll actually give some credit to Ms. Taylor about that particular review however there are many more which can be found by professionals who had nothing to do with the production of the film.  The HHS (Health and Human Services I presume) does not own patents and licenses for recommended vaccines.  Those are held by the manufacturers.  For example, MMR II is owned and licensed by Merck while the Prevnar 13 license is held by Wyeth.  This is a pretty rookie mistake by an alleged "well-researched" anti-vaxx "activist".
You see I have a beloved friend and advocacy partner named Becky Estepp. You all know Becky, she has been a regular on Fox News Channel, and lots of local San Diego area news pieces for years.  If you want to talk a parent in Southern California who can discuss the problems with the vaccine program, and its relationship to the autism epidemic, Becky is your go to gal.

Four years ago, she got a phone call from a high school boy from CHSTV, an awkward sophomore, who said they were making a documentary, and had some questions.  Becky had a long conversation with him, but could tell some of the things she was trying to teach him were a bit over his head.  Then she never heard from anyone on the film again.

Cut to this year when she sees the trailer for "Invisible Threat," and realized THIS was the project she was interviewed for. A totally biased piece, allegedly done by teenagers, that was a bit difficult to believe was done by teenagers.  Why did they not interview her for the actual film?  Great question... I wondered too!
This never happened so either Becky Estepp and/or Ginger Taylor are flat out lying.  Firstly, the Invisible Threat documentary wasn't even proposed until 2012 yet Ms. Taylor claims that Ms. Estepp spoke to a student in 2010, two years prior to it's proposal to CHSTV Films.  How does that work without a Tardis?  Secondly, no students are allowed to make contact with adults like that; they are minors after all.  The parent volunteers will always initially contact potential interviewees.  No one from CHSTV Films ever spoke with Becky Estepp.
We also wondered, "Kids made this?  Really?"  From my estimation, yes they did.  But it seems pretty obvious that they were lead around by the nose on what what and how to "investigate."  In fact we were told at the outset that one of the kids parents worked for Scholastic and "helped" the kids.  I am sure that Rotary "helped" too.  Also apparently the Gates Foundation, "helped"... so....
How is it obvious that the students were "lead around by the nose"?  Was Ms. Taylor there?  Has she bothered to interview anyone involved with the production of Invisible Threat?  Of course not, then she couldn't just rectally-source her claims.  The fact is, is that the students worked completely independently of the Rotary Club; they made it very clear what they wanted to do and they will do it on their own.
But the young people and their advisors thought the Rotary proposal — to make a 20-minute educational film explaining how the immune system and immunization work — seemed boring, they said. And they bristled when the Rotarians told them how the movie should be made, added Bradley Streicher, one of the students who worked on it.

"We said, if we do this, we have to do this on our terms," he said. "We wanted to explore this from both sides."
I have spoken extensively with one of the parent volunteers who informed me that the students decide on the issue, research it, write it, conduct the interviews, conduct filming and editing.  Parent volunteers such as Douglas Green and Lisa Posard assist with contacting subjects, filming and ask some follow-up questions only after the students have interviewed subjects.  I guess given Ginger Taylor's limited ability to grasp science, she needs to project that onto others.  What is the anti-vaxx mantra?  "Do your own research."  These students did and they just didn't find anti-vaxx claims evidence-based or compelling.
She explained that this was the first time the film had been shown in New England (Really? They picked Portland, Maine?) and later explained that one of the reasons that it has not been widely distributed is because the children received death threats after the movie, just like poor Paul Offit (who we have asked for some documentation on these threats, a police report, anything, because, you know... if that shit is really happening, then NOT OK, and we would shame such people into oblivion for it... cause we are kinda sick of being called "baby killers" and being threatened with Child Protective Services as well.)
If Ms. Taylor was told the students received death threats then she was misinformed.  No one involved with CHSTV Films ever claimed they received death threats.  They have however received numerous threats of harm, harassment and intimidation meant to scare them away from completing the project and it nearly worked except the students you claim were "lead around by the nose" convinced the school to let them stay the course.  The school has records and aren't obliged to share them with other anti-vaxx loons.  Ms. Taylor seems to be justifying death threats to Dr. Offit (and he has received actual death threats) just because she doesn't like him.  Are anti-vaxx loons so morally challenged that they can't just condemn the practice of threats and intimidation no matter who they are directed against?  Seems not.
So the film begins, and it is all the same tropes.  It's all Wakefield's fault.  Your body is crawling with a bazillion creatures out to kill you.  Mothers of children who have died of "vaccine preventable" illnesses are beautiful and worthy of your compassion.  Mothers of children who believe vaccines cause their child's autism are into hippy dippy crap like rubbing oils on their kids and moving their limbs around to heal them.
If Ms. Taylor's "assessment" of the film and those involved wasn't bad enough, she goes on to mock mothers who lost their children to vaccine preventable diseases.  Not much more I can say other than to let Ms. Taylor's callous remark reflect upon her.  It is odd that she would be critical of the "vaccines cause autism" mom who engages in alternative medicine when she is representative of the very crowd that Ms. Taylor circulates in.  Perhaps she would have been more approving if the students interviewed the ditchpig mothers who force industrial bleach enemas, drinks and baths onto their autistic children then gush when the poor child shits out his intestinal mucosa.  Maybe parents forcing useless and dangerous chelation on their autistic children based upon bogus tests would meet with Ms. Taylor's approval.  Better yet, how about the one two punch of the Geiers and Mayer Eisenstein that involves falsely diagnosing precocious puberty, chemical castration with Lupron and then chelating?  Or any of the other abusive "biomed" you subject your children to?  Be careful what you wish for Ms. Taylor, had the students dug a little deeper, how much better does your hippy dippy autism mom look now?
The docs that treat their kids are unattractive quacks.  The docs that say vaccines are totally safe are attractive and established and should have angelic music behind them when they speak.
Actually the pro-science, evidence-based physicians who appeared in Invisible Threat had very ominous music playing in the background and they also never said that vaccines were "totally safe".  But more importantly, I would again caution Ms. Taylor to be careful what she wishes for.  Would the previously mentioned quacks like the Geiers, Keri Rivera or Jeff Bradstreet presented better than Dr. Centers?  What difference should it make what they look like, isn't the information they provide be of utmost import?  Perhaps Ms. Taylor had an epiphany (albeit brief) that anti-vaxxers look bad because their message and information are bad.  Ms. Taylor would no doubt be more approving of "more attractive" quacks like Dr. Bob Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon.  They were contacted by CSHTV Films to participate and too bad they both declined to grant them interviews.

Ms. Taylor seems to take a tremendous amount of pride in "unleashing" on the panellists present to answer questions after the Invisible Threat screening.

So this is toward the end of the panel discussion, and I just unloaded on them. And not gracefully either.  The angry, talking 60 miles an hour Ginge burst out of me.  I explained that I was the mother of a vaccine injured child and... blah blah insert my creds here... and watching the movie (that they had all extolled) was hard for me because it contained so much that was false and incomplete and sucky.  (I didn't really say sucky.)

So Dr. Blaisdell addressed me very nicely/handled me, and asked me questions, so I was like.. "Fuck it... I am just going to keep talking as long as they will let me," which was a while. But then she brought it around with a "well what would you recommend for us" giving me a final say... again, good, but totally handling me. 
Of course you were being handled with kidd gloves; that's what sensible people do when confronted with an unhinged, gibbering person in close proximity.  It's quite a lack of self-awareness on Ms. Taylor's part to think that she dazzled them with her facts rather than scared the wits out of them.  Again, this is all I care to try and decipher but for those with more fortitude than I may find the rest of her rant to be an exercise in some kind of psychopathology if that's their interest.

Invisible Threat Just Became Visible


Invisible Threat is a documentary written, produced and directed by student filmakers from Carlsbad High school and their award-winning broadcast journalism program CHSTV Films.  It is an exquisitely done short film about the vaccine-autism manufactroversy.  CHSTV Films was approached by the Rotary Club International to produce a film about the immune system and how vaccines work to support their "Don't Wait, Vaccinate!" program.  However, the student broadcast journalists of CHSTV Films had their own idea:
But the young people and their advisors thought the Rotary proposal — to make a 20-minute educational film explaining how the immune system and immunization work — seemed boring, they said. And they bristled when the Rotarians told them how the movie should be made, added Bradley Streicher, one of the students who worked on it.
"We said, if we do this, we have to do this on our terms," he said. "We wanted to explore this from both sides."
Little did these students know what they were about to embark upon and the vitriol they would have to endure to see this documentary completed and released.  Over a year prior to completing the film, the North County Times of Escondido, CA reported on it and the hate blog Age of Autism wasted no time sliming the students and their project.  Links to the NC Times are dead, I understand the paper folded and fortunately for the Age of Autism denizens their vicious comments railing against the student journalists involved with Invisible Threat can no longer be seen.  However, the school received numerous threatening and harassing phone calls and their Facebook page continues to get nasty ad hominem comments (which are deleted).

The adult volunteers involved with Invisible Threat were rightfully concerned for the students' safety and wanted to terminate the project.  The students were not deterred however and it was then that they became the teachers and convinced the parent/teacher volunteers to forge ahead.
It was outrageous to me that the adults would cave to the intimidation. My passion for not backing down was as a student broadcast journalist and the lessons I’d learned making our first film, We Must Remember. In response to that film, it was white supremacists who were angry and contacting us, but we didn’t drop the project. The documentary was about American teens who discover the horrors of the Holocaust first hand by interviewing survivors, traveling to several concentration camps in Europe, and interviewing German teens with Nazi grandparents. The Academy Award winning producer for Schindler’s List, Branko Lustig, took our team to Croatia for the international premiere. There the filmmakers had the opportunity to speak to Serbian, Muslim, and Croatian teens about the lesson we learned. We Must Remember was made to promote tolerance and alert people to the dangers of bullying, while teaching history from a peer-to-peer approach. How could we back down from a topic because of bullying after what we learned and experienced with We Must Remember? The adults weren’t budging until I asked them to “Remember what happens when good people do nothing!
The documentary was completed and select screenings were arranged.  Apparently one that took place on Capitol Hill provoked a new round of vapid criticisms, oddly by those who hadn't even seen the film.
Focus Autism and AutismOne organizations complained about the movie's Rotary Club backing and about the involvement of Dr. Paul Offit, a University of Pennsylvania pediatrician and immunization proponent. They argued that "Invisible Threat" was "scripted with industry talking points" and that the movie seemed to be the work of adults operating under false pretenses, not students.
It is important to note that AutismOne is a notorious anti-vaxx organisation who gives a platform to fraudulent researcher Andrew Jeremy Wakefield, showcases horrible and abusive "autism treatments" such as bleach enemas, DIY faecal transplants, chemical castration and chelation and off-label prescription drug use.  Until this year, anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy sponsored Autism One conferences and still owns Generation Rescue an alleged autism charity that promotes unproven and dangerous "autism treatments" along with funding anti-vaxx "studies".  Focus Autism is another faux "autism resource" whose members and founders disseminate the discredited vaccine autism causation idea.  They attack perceived enemies as well as allies who don't toe their party line.

These are the groups and individuals with a clear axe to grind because they are the very types Invisible Threat features in their documentary.  But these are not particularly rational nor ethical people to begin with given what they advocate for.

The film has been completed, distributed to academic and public health institutions and has received glowing reviews and endorsements.  Invisible Threat has been scheduled to be released in conjunction with the 2014 National Immunization Awareness Month.  If you are a public health official, school administrator, healthcare provider or member of an academic institution, please visit Every Child By Two or contact ThreatInfo@gmail.com to arrange for a screening and/or get a copy of Invisible Threat.  Please support these amazing students and their broadcast journalism program while educating the public about the threat to our health and well-being due to falling vaccination rates.  A student involved with the production of Invisible Threat made an amazingly eloquent statement about what she learned during the making of the film:
"My personal conclusion is that vaccinations causing autism is a social controversy, not a scientific one."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

RIP Charlie Haden

The world renowned jazz double bass player Charlie Haden passed away yesterday. How is that relevant for this blog?



Charlie Haden was a gifted singer, performing from the age of 2 years in his family's radio show, until he caught a form of bulbar polio as a teenager - this left him with weak vocal cords and unable to control his pitch. He picked up his brother's double bass and turned out to be one of jazz' greatest double bass players, pairing with Ornette Coleman, Paul Bley, Paul Motian, Carla Bley, Dewey Redman, Bill Frisell and others.

In 2010, Haden got struck by post-polio syndrome, leaving him extremely ill, and, cruelly, nearly unable to swallow. His wish was to play the bass again. Charlie Haden passed away after his long illness with his wife and four children at his side. Our thoughts go out to them.

image credit: Bassist Charlie Haden at radio station KJAZ in Alameda CA, 1981. Photo by Brian McMillen / contact: brianmcmillen@hotmail.com

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A year's worth of measles cases in a week - calling it!

The CDC has just reported the measles cases for 2014 to date: 402 (that is four hundred and two) and 65 cases more than last week. The entire year 2010 only saw 63 cases and in fact, the median number between 2000 and 2010 was 60 per year. How can that be?! Very simple: Every year, measles are imported into the US from abroad. If they are imported into communities with low vaccination coverage, they will spread - usually not very far. Just that this time, measles got imported into a much larger pocket of low vaccination coverage - the Ohio population of Amish. And although these are now vaccinating, there are enough non-immune people around to sustain the outbreak, sustain it big time (I am sure we'll hear a luke warm "that's not an outbreak" from Bob Sears at some point though).

image credit nbcnews

In any case - with 402 cases, the time has come to call it - the last really big outbreak of measles in the US was in 1989 to 1991. Around 55000 people got sick, at least 123 died acutely for a mortality rate of 1 reported death in 451 reported cases. We know that there have been at least 11 SSPE cases due to that outbreak, so the death rate is more like 1 reported death in 414 reported cases. We will reach at least one of these numbers next week. That doesn't mean that someone is going to die next week, statistics don't quite work that way. However, it is, at this point, more likely than not that we'll see a death before the end this year.

I am going to call something else: one someone dies, the anti-vax are going to find something "defective" about the victim, and if it isn't something obvious (like the measles victim in Wales, who reportedly was an underweight adult with a past alcohol problem, so "clearly" not like the vaccine refusers' little snowflakes), they are going to make something up (wrong diet, blabla). No number of deaths will be "enough" for them - sad!

Now is as good a time as ever to check your children's and your own immunization records - 2xMMR is extremely effective in preventing measles and saving lives! Just do it.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

KISS 11 June 2014: Vaccination protects from severe pertussis

An ongoing outbreak of pertussis in Oregon, spanning from 2010 to 2012 and 624 cases, offered the exceptional opportunity to analyse disease severity. Vaccination history, treatment, demographic, and outcome information was available for almost all (98.7%) of the patients, of which 45% were up to date with currently recommended vaccinations. The paper finds:
Ever-vaccinated cases were significantly less likely to be hospitalized or develop severe illness (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], .1-.8 and aOR, 0.4; 95% CI, .2-.9, respectively). ACIP up-to-date patients stopped coughing significantly more rapidly than unvaccinated patients (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.2). [my bold]
 Read more here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Routine vaccination leaves man quadriplegic? Open Letter to Channel Nine

Like several other outlets, Channel Nine News reported the story of Ben Hammond, a Western Australian father of five, who came down with a debilitating episode of what is purported to be ADEM after a whooping cough booster. Now the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters have written an Open Letter to Channel Nine, which I am reposting here with kind permission, since it is, in contrast to Channel Nine's piece, evidence based and factual and important.

AN OPEN LETTER REGARDING A RECENT CHANNEL NINE NEWS STORY, THEIR INACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF VACCINE RISK, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ADULT WHOOPING COUGH BOOSTER.

A news story that aired nationally on 2nd and 3rd June, 2014 on the Channel Nine News network and the Today Show was inaccurate and grossly irresponsible.

The story featured Perth father Ben Hammond, who received a Diptheria/Tetanus/Pertussis booster, and became seriously ill eleven days afterwards. Ben’s condition was said to be ADEM (Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis), a rare auto immune condition. This disease lead to Ben becoming quadriplegic for several months.

First of all, we wish to express our sorrow and sympathy for everything this man and his family have been through. By all accounts they have suffered a great deal physically, emotionally, and financially.
We are not writing to challenge or diminish what has happened to the Hammonds. This family deserves the support and generosity of the public to help them get back on their feet. We support a full investigation into the cause of his illness, so there is transparency on the facts of whether the vaccine caused it and the risks.
However the story breaches the Australian Communications and Media Authority Code of Practice (1):

• Section 4.3.1: The article was not factual or accurate and did not represent
  viewpoints fairly. It did not state:
    o How rarely, if ever, it has been shown that ADEM can be
       caused by vaccination
    o Any evidence to support this allegation
    o Why adults require the Whooping Cough (pertussis)
       booster
    o The relative risk to babies of whooping cough, versus
        the risk of the alleged vaccine reaction
• Section 4.3.2: It could cause public panic about vaccines and place
  newborn babies at risk

Why adults require Whooping cough boosters:
The Hammonds were offered a free booster during the time that Australia was experiencing the world’s largest Whooping Cough epidemic. This peaked at 38,500 cases in 2011. In response to thousands of babies being hospitalised and tragically over ten babies dying nationally, State governments have distributed millions of doses of the vaccine for free to new parents since 2009. Without the program, the number of grieving families would have been significantly higher.
Our group includes families whose babies have died from Whooping Cough, and who have worked hard to raise awareness of the need for adult boosters. This has saved lives, particularly of vulnerable premature babies.

Adults need a booster because of waning immunity, this happens both after the vaccine, and following ‘natural’ infection. Recent research has shown that this can occur as quickly as after four years(2). Unfortunately, nationally, less that 12% of adults have had a Whooping Cough booster (3). This means if there is an outbreak, an adult is susceptible to catching the disease, and passing it on to others. For most adults, this causes an irritating coughing illness that can last for months and lead to rib fractures and pneumonia; in young infants it can be deadly. Babies cannot have their first dose of protective vaccine until they are 6 weeks to 2 months old, so these very young babies must rely on adults being up-to-date with their boosters to be protected (4).

Risk of whooping cough to babies:
The story did not state the relative risk of acquiring ADEM after a vaccination, when compared to the risk of a baby catching whooping cough.

   • Nearly all babies that catch whooping cough require care in hospital.
   • It tragically proves fatal in 1 in 200 who catch it (5).
   • There is no cure for whooping cough. Babies face months of disease, and once it takes hold, the only treatment is supportive, with oxygen, and for critical cases, ventilation and ECMO (life support that, at best, also carries a very high mortality) (6).

Thankfully new research has shown that if a woman gets vaccinated when pregnant, this may halve the risk of the baby catching whooping cough (7). However, we are concerned your program will negatively impact on the uptake of this vital public health measure.

The facts about ADEM:
The news story should have featured a medical expert, to provide some facts about ADEM. Without the context of how rarely ADEM occurs after a vaccination, this omission could greatly damage public confidence in the vaccination program.

The alarmist headlines used such as “Routine vaccination almost fatal” “Vaccine danger” “Man becomes quadriplegic following routine vaccination” “One shot left him crippled” “Destroyed his life” and “Vaccination nightmare” were not counterbalanced with any information portraying the real-life risk of developing ADEM. Instead, we were solely given the Hammonds' own assertion of it’s cause.

ADEM may or may not be associated with some vaccines. We know that it occurs at such an extremely low rate it is impossible to determine causality with any scientific accuracy.
Indeed it is so rare the risk is something like 8 out of 1 million risk to the general population. Out of those cases, less than 5% follow immunisation, and it is much more likely to follow infection by one of the vaccine preventable diseases (8). There are many common and not-so-common bacteria and viruses that induce ADEM at much higher rates than those associated with vaccination.
The only vaccine proven to induce ADEM is the Semple form of the rabies vaccine. Other vaccines have all been implicated, most commonly the MMR vaccine, but the majority of the studies that correlate vaccination with ADEM onset use small samples or case studies (because there are so few cases to begin with). Large scale epidemiological studies have not shown an increased risk of ADEM following vaccination.

Also misleading was the implication Mr Hammond had “no immune system" and “no kidney or liver function” from the vaccine. ADEM should not cause organ dysfunction or immune suppression (although medication used to treat it can), and the paralysis it causes is usually temporary.
We take vaccine safety and transparency about that safety very seriously, and support the Hammond's use of the media to highlight the rare possibility of adverse vaccine reactions. The family deserves respect, and privacy, and we understand their need for financial assistance. We hope Ben’s case highlights the importance of a no-fault vaccine injury compensation program in Australia, for when adverse reactions to vaccines do occur.

However, unnecessarily scaring people away from vaccination programs such as against whooping cough could deter adults from having a booster, and place vulnerable newborns at high risk. News reports regarding vaccination should be clear and balanced. They need to present the relative risks of an adverse reaction to a vaccine when compared with the risks from vaccine preventable diseases. The media’s role in public perception of healthcare, risk of disease, and vaccine safety should not be underestimated, nor the responsibility taken lightly.


1: http://tinyurl.com/ltbyrl4

2: Wendelboe, A. M., Van Rie, A., Salmaso, S., & Englund, J. A. (2005). Duration of immunity against pertussis after natural infection or vaccination. The Pediatric infectious disease journal, 24(5), S58-S61
3: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737418409
4: http://www.chainofprotection.org/adultimmunisation
5: http://tinyurl.com/pwfthsw
6: http://tinyurl.com/msyg6pg
7: http://tinyurl.com/k3rp7t3
8: Huynh, W., Cordato, D. J., Kehdi, E., Masters, L. T., & Dedousis, C. (2008). Post-vaccination encephalomyelitis: literature review and illustrative case. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 15(12), 1315-1322.