Posted by DrJohn on 4 February, 2015 at 6:09 am. 17 comments already!

vaccine 2

This morning on Morning Joe, resident smartass Mika Brzezinski took potshots at Rand Paul for something he said about vaccines. Paul was quoted as saying:

Sen. Rand Paul’s blunt style led to a combative interview with a female reporter and controversial comments defending his insistence on voluntary vaccinations on Monday.

During the interview, with CNBC’s Kelly Evans, Paul yawns, interrupts Evans and at one point motions for her to be quiet with a finger to his lips.

He also reproaches her for a “slanted” interview that he says “got no useful information because you were argumentative, and you started out with so many presuppositions that were incorrect.”

Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, also asserts that he’s heard of cases where vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.”

“I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said. “I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input.

Over at The Week, Jeff Spross called Paul “dead wrong” and “kooky.”

Rand Paul is right. There are time vaccines can have crippling neurologic effects. I’ve seen it. It happened in my own family.

I have a cousin who is a quadriplegic and has been permanently bound to a wheelchair for nearly all of his life. When he was born he was an entirely normal child. Absolutely normal. Then he received his first pertussis vaccination. Following the vaccination he became febrile and lethargic for an entire day. He recovered from that but following the second administration he again suffered what at first seemed a similar reaction except that he did not recover. Days go by, then weeks go by. He was unable to move his limbs or vocalize. The terrible truth sank in- Ken (not his real name) had suffered a severe encephalopathy. To this day he remains wheelchair bound, unable to communicate, unable to feed himself, unable to walk, unable to even stand.

Flash forward a couple of decades. My infant son was given a DTP vaccination (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis). For eight hours he was febrile and lethargic. It frightened my wife and me more than I can explain. For what seemed an eternity I held him, praying he’d come around. Then, gradually he did. The red flags went right up in my mind and I knew why. Typical reactions to the vaccine are fever, erythema and swelling.

But there can be more. Much more:

Severe Problems (Very Rare)
•Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
• Several other severe problems have been reported after DTaP vaccine. These include: ◦ Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
Permanent brain damage.

Further, the CDC states:

Approximate rates for the occurrence of adverse events following receipt of DTP (regardless of dose number in the series or age of the child) are shown in (Table_6) (60,61). The frequencies of local reactions and fever are substantially higher with increasing numbers of doses of DTP, while other mild-to-moderate systemic reactions (e.g., fretfulness, vomiting) are substantially less frequent (59-61).

Concern about the possible role of pertussis vaccine in causing neurologic reactions has been present since the earliest days of vaccine use. Rare but serious acute neurologic illnesses, including encephalitis/encephalopathy and prolonged convulsions, have been anecdotally reported following receipt of whole-cell pertussis vaccine given as DTP (62,63). Whether pertussis vaccine causes or is only coincidentally related to such illnesses or reveals an inevitable event has been difficult to determine conclusively for the following reasons: a) serious acute neurologic illnesses often occur or become manifest among children during the first year of life irrespective of vaccination; b) there is no specific clinical sign, pathologic finding, or laboratory test which can determine whether the illness is caused by the DTP; c) it may be difficult to determine with certainty whether infants less than 6 months of age are neurologically normal, which complicates assessment of whether vaccinees were already neurologically impaired before receiving DTP; and d) because these events are exceedingly rare, appropriately designed large studies are needed to address the question.

Despite these methodologic difficulties, the National Childhood Encephalopathy Study (NCES) and other controlled epidemiologic studies have provided evidence that DTP can cause acute encephalopathy (64-68). This adverse event occurs rarely, with an estimated risk of zero to 10.5 episodes per million DTP vaccinations (68). A detailed follow-up of the NCES indicated that children who had had a serious acute neurologic illness after DTP administration were significantly more likely than children in the control group to have chronic nervous system dysfunction 10 years later. These children with chronic nervous system dysfunction were more likely than children in the control group to have received DTP within 7 days of onset of the original serious acute neurologic illness (i.e., 12 {3.3%} of 367 children vs. six {0.8%} of 723 children) (69).

After reviewing the follow-up data, IOM concluded that the NCES provided evidence of an association between DTP and chronic nervous system dysfunction in children who had had a serious acute neurologic illness after vaccination with DTP. The committee proposed three possible explanations for this association. First, the acute neurologic illness and subsequent chronic nervous system dysfunction might have been caused by DTP. Second, DTP might trigger an acute neurologic illness and subsequent chronic nervous system dysfunction in children who have underlying brain or metabolic abnormalities. Such children might experience similar chronic dysfunction in the absence of DTP vaccination if other stimuli (e.g., fever or infection) are present. Third, DTP might cause an acute neurologic illness in children who have underlying brain or metabolic abnormalities that would inevitably have led to chronic nervous system dysfunction even if the acute neurologic illness had not developed (6). IOM concluded that the NCES data do not support one explanation over another.

For all the abuse that Paul is taking, it wasn’t so long ago that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had questions about vaccinations:

On more than one occasion, Obama echoed common anti-vaccine arguments that vaccines, including ones based on long-retracted research that vaccines have a tie to autism.

“We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines. This person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it,” then Sen. Obama said.

The president’s words contrast his current position that there is no reason not to get vaccinated. The president said over the weekend that the scientific evidence in support of vaccines is “overwhelming.”

“There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers. But the science right now is inconclusive,” Obama said.

Likely 2016 Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton had a similar statement while speaking to an anti-vaccine group on the campaign trail in 2008.

“I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines,” said Clinton in a written response to the group.

Having said all of this, I am a staunch advocate of vaccination. My son got the balance of the D and T portions of his scheduled vaccinations and suffered no more untoward reactions. I also chose to omit the pertussis vaccination for my next two children based on the positive family history. My children were vaccinated for everything else as recommended.

We come to Paul’s bottom line argument- choice. He believes that parent should be free to choose whether or not their kids are vaccinated. I agree. If vaccination was mandatory and I had no choice, my son might well be a quadriplegic as is my cousin.

In the Washington Post, Aaron Blake misinforms readers and makes an ass of himself as did Jeff Spross above:

Paul, it should be emphasized, is on his own island when it comes to suggesting vaccines could lead to adverse health risks — something not backed up by science.

Nothing could be more wrong. Vaccines absolutely CAN cause encephalopathy. Fortunately it is very rare but it is real. The outright dismissal of the possibility is reckless and dangerous. The science is settled.

Following vaccination parents need to carefully observe the reactions in their kids. There are fairly clear classifications of symptoms of reactions. The vast majority will be minor. The CDC makes them readily available. For DTP, they are:

Mild Problems (Common)
•Fever (up to about 1 child in 4)
• Redness or swelling where the shot was given (up to about 1 child in 4)
• Soreness or tenderness where the shot was given (up to about 1 child in 4)

These problems occur more often after the 4th and 5th doses of the DTaP series than after earlier doses. Sometimes the 4th or 5th dose of DTaP vaccine is followed by swelling of the entire arm or leg in which the shot was given, lasting 1-7 days (up to about 1 child in 30).

Other mild problems include:
•Fussiness (up to about 1 child in 3)
• Tiredness or poor appetite (up to about 1 child in 10)
• Vomiting (up to about 1 child in 50)

These problems generally occur 1-3 days after the shot.

Moderate Problems (Uncommon)
•Seizure (jerking or staring) (about 1 child out of 14,000)
• Non-stop crying, for 3 hours or more (up to about 1 child out of 1,000)
• High fever, over 105°F (about 1 child out of 16,000)

Severe Problems (Very Rare)
•Serious allergic reaction (less than 1 out of a million doses)
• Several other severe problems have been reported after DTaP vaccine. These include: ◦ Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
◦ Permanent brain damage.

Many vaccinations are given in multiple doses over time. Know the possible side effects and carefully observe to the reactions that follow.

By all mean, have your kids vaccinated. Just pay attention. Severe side effects are rare, but they are real. Asserting otherwise is both ignorant and plain stupid.

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