Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. This week’s Fails and Wins in the media were all about vaccines. I only wish that there weren’t any stories related to MMR, but unfortunately we are going to be battling the effects of that B.S. for a long time.

Yellow fever vaccination drive in Togo (Africa) in 2007

Canadian vaccine offers hope for global scourge of E. coli
Lorne sent in this story. Speaking of B.S., a vaccination made for cows could help stop the spread of a common strain of E. coli into our food and water supply. E. coli has been a big problem in the last few decades, and this could make a big impact. However, the commenters don’t all agree. They are seeing the Big Pharma/Big Farm conspiracies, oh and the H1N1 “conspiracy” is back in discussion too.

Drugs: Steep Vaccine Price Reductions Could Help in Reaching More Children

Art sent in this story. Drug makers such as GlaxoSmithKlein have announced some big price cuts for the life-saving vaccines it supplies to the GAVI Alliance, a group that collects donor money to purchase vaccines for children in need. Perhaps this was related to the fact that the United Nations Children’s Fund released a report showing what it was paying for these vaccines? Either way, it’s a win.

The return of measles: Where did we go wrong?

A serious measles outbreak has sprung up in Quebec, and our poor vaccination rates are certainly related. Measles is a serious illness. While it’s not fatal to most, it can still lead to hospitalization, brain damage, infertility, and permanent scars. It is ridiculously contagious, so herd immunity is extra important. Unfortunately parents are still not vaccinating because of fears that the MMR vaccine is related to autism, despite the fact that that theory never had good supporting evidence, and now has overwhelming evidence against it. That, combined with a continuing trend for people to eschew anything “pharmaceutical” or “unnatural” is sending our infectious disease rates back in time. There is a reason that the anti-vaccers have become the number one target for skeptics in the last few years….they are killing people.  The Globe and Mail has a poll on it’s website about the measles vaccine, and it’s nice to see the results. Hopefully we will see vaccination rates start to turn around.

That’s the Fails and Wins this week, folks! See you next week, and don’t forget to send me your links to links [at] skepticnorth [dot] com.

3 Responses to “Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week”

  1. Lin says:

    That measles one is disheartening.
    My sister, whom I love dearly and otherwise believe to be a very smart person, has opted to ‘protect’ her children with whatever it is that naturopaths sell as an alternative to vaccines.

  2. Art Tricque says:

    Note this letter to the editor “Agonizing days” in the June 11 Globe and Mail from an adult who recently caught measles. She writes “An infectious diseases specialist at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto…informed me that 10- to 25-per-cent of people born before 1957 did not acquire immunity from contact with measles in the days before inoculation. … High fever, a full-body rash that swelled my eyes shut, viral pneumonia, intense pain and hepatitis bedevilled my days in hospital isolation.” She fought off the illness, but another patient of similar age succumbed.
    PS Can anyone comment on the “10- to 25-per-cent of people born before 1957″ not having acquired immunity? Is immunization sensible for people in this bracket?

  3. Bryan says:

    PS Can anyone comment on the “10- to 25-per-cent of people born before 1957″ not having acquired immunity? Is immunization sensible for people in this bracket?

    This sounds about right. Prior to the advent of measles vaccines, outbreaks were common, often sweeping through schools the way flus and colds do today (or the way chickenpox did when I was a kid). A small portion of students would avoid infection, either because it didn’t hit their school, or they lucked out and didn’t get infected. Meaning that a small proportion (i.e. 10-25%) of people wouldn’t have been exposed as kids, and thus are susceptible today. Immunization would be sensible for this group*; either as a booster for those who were exposed “naturally” as children, or as a primary vaccination for the 10-25.

    * Most vaccines should be boosted every 10-20 years. While immunity has the theoretical possibility to be life-long, it requires the ongoing survival of T and B cells. Occasional re-boosting causes these memory cells to replicate; restoring them to effective levels.


  • Melany Hamill

    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.