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Medicine Science

Uptick In Whooping Cough Linked To Subpar Vaccines 273

Posted by samzenpus
from the always-buy-name-brand dept.
sciencehabit writes "Whooping cough, or pertussis, has exploded in the United States in recent years. A new study (abstract) confirms what scientists have suspected for some time: The return of the disease is caused by the introduction of new, safer vaccines 2 decades ago. Although they have far fewer side effects, the new shots don't offer long-lived protection the way older vaccines do."
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Uptick In Whooping Cough Linked To Subpar Vaccines

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  • by intermodal (534361) on Monday May 20, 2013 @10:28AM (#43773191) Homepage Journal

    Vaccines have a great reputation, largely resulting from the highly successful campaigns with smallpox and polio. However, these were done in a less litigious era, and unlike today's medical practice, they could operate without the fear of gigantic lawsuits if something went wrong.

    These reduced-effectiveness vaccines are like many "safer", "greener", or otherwise "less harmful" solutions; they have their drawbacks, but only a fool would try to push their solution by advertising those drawbacks. Now we're seeing two effects. A re-emergence of pertussis, and decreased public confidence in vaccines.

    • by alen (225700)

      you can't sue drug companies over vaccines. there is a huge national bank account used to pay claims of health problems resulting from a vaccine

    • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday May 20, 2013 @11:03AM (#43773485) Journal

      The truth is those older vaccines probably hurt lots people. Which is not to say that they did not help millions more. Its not just the era of litigation that is the issue. We are a lot better at identifying the cause of health problems now than we were 40 years ago. We have gotten much faster and widely distributed news, so even a handful of bad outcomes becomes know to the public.

      I suspect the anit-vaccs movement would be stronger not weaker if the older vaccs were still in use. A few negative outcomes with very clear established causation would be impossible to make go away in terms of news cycle.

      What society is not good at is risk assessment. People are afraid to get their kid vaccinated due to the tiny risk they have some rare as yet unknown immune condition that could cause problems, but were willing to subject them to the risk of driving to the physicians office. These are the same people that demand the TSA strip search their fellow passengers but think nothing of the danger of keeping a large crowd of people confined to a small area.

      We need to get much better at teaching cost benefit analysis with regard to risk management. Because right now a whole lot of people are spending a whole lot of money to make themselves less safe.

      • by mishehu (712452)
        I don't think it would matter one single iota if the older vaccines would still be in use from the standpoint of the anti-vaccs group. The evidence to this day, afaik, does NOT support the 1980's court cases about vaccines in the first place. You don't necessarily need scientific evidence in a courtroom to instill the fear of lawsuits in the manufacturers...
      • We have gotten much faster and widely distributed news

        Speed doesn't matter, quality matters. One has gone up, while the other had gone down. No one reports on how many lives are saved by vaccination because it isn't "news"; it's normal, it's expected, and it is pleasantly boring. Instead, we get headlines "HPV vaccine causes fainting spells" with the pertinent information (50-60 out of several million, no lasting negative effects) is buried 2 pages in. Because it sells. It sells and it makes money and it causes of culture of fear and worry that leads to

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday May 20, 2013 @11:07AM (#43773525)

      The problem is too much conspiracy thinking.
      If the majority says it is good, and there is one wacko saying that it isn't. That wacko gets far more attention then the masses because, we have been trained to think everything is a conspiracy.

      Not directly but we are being taught to be wary of forces that will make us the next Communist or Nazi state. Seeing how the generations before us fell into this evil mindset and just allowed to be taken over by the government.
      We are now vigilant, too vigilant, every thing that comes across our plate saying trust us, this is good for you, we take it as skepticism, and most of us are not willing to do the actual science to prove it for themselves. So they don't believe the mass combined with being too lazy to check it out for themselves, creates these problems.

      We want people to tell us what is best, but we don't believe these people because those same people could be lying to us to manipulate us.
             

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:48PM (#43774439) Journal

        The problem is too much conspiracy thinking.

        It's not just that.

        Vaccines happen at about the age where developmental problems become apparent, so people associate the developmental problems with the vaccines.

        Apparently the different european countries have the same sorts of vaccine scares as the UK, but they all have them about different vaccines.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905)
        I see the other side of that. Anyone who points out a conspiracy is called a 'conspiracy theorist' and labeled a nut. We know that conspiracies happen. Conspiracies happen all the time, both big and small. The problem is that people pick their team and stick with it to the end. As they see it, either all conspiracies are the ravings of lunatics, or none are. All vaccines are good, or all are bad.

        The bigger problem with conspiracies is that nothing gets done about them. Whether it is some guy on th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rabtech (223758)

      Vaccines have a great reputation, largely resulting from the highly successful campaigns with smallpox and polio. However, these were done in a less litigious era, and unlike today's medical practice, they could operate without the fear of gigantic lawsuits if something went wrong.

      I know that makes a great right-wing talking point, but in fact vaccine makers are shielded from almost all liability, barring gross misconduct.

      Congress created the vaccine court that evaluates people who may have been injured by a vaccination (no action is 100% free of side effects in 100% of people 100% of the time, including taking no action which in the case of the target diseases is millions of deaths and maimings or stuff like allergic reactions in the case of giving vaccines).

      If you are injured by a

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Part of the reason these diseases are coming back is the anti-vaccination conspiracy nut jobs. If herd immunity drops below a certain percentage then the disease can persist and grow.

        Well, is this such a bad thing?

        I mean, the 'nut jobs' will be selecting themselves right out of the gene pool, right?

        :)

        I've often thought at times, that the gene pool needs a little chlorine every now and then, and this looks like a natural way for it to take care of itself.

        • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:17PM (#43774145)
          The problem is lack of herd immunity affects the innocent. For example the elderly whose immunity has worn off or very young who haven't had their vaccines yet. Both groups are more susceptible to diseases.
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Vaccination also affects the innocent. The people who have a bad reaction to vaccination, while generally fewer than those that are helped by the vaccination, are not necessarily the ones who would have suffered or died if there was no vaccinations. Vaccination is a numbers game. Trying to draw a line between the innocent and the guilty is counter productive for anything but rationalization.
        • Well, is this such a bad thing? I mean, the 'nut jobs' will be selecting themselves right out of the gene pool, right?

          I know you are joking but yes it really is such a bad thing. The problem is that some people cannot get vaccinated due to things like allergies to vaccine components, a weakened immune system or other health issues. The more people that get vaccinated the stronger the herd immunity and the less chance an unvaccinated person has of exposure. These idiots who don't get vaccinated increase the risk to both themselves and the people who through no fault of their own cannot have the vaccine administered. If

      • by tibit (1762298)

        I think that the problem we have is only tangential to the vaccines. Our communication skills demonstrably have not evolved to rationally cope with ubiquitous access to communications. People get quite irrational and their selection biases show simply because they see an "OMG" post on Facebook or an alarmist segment on their evening news.

  • by houbou (1097327) on Monday May 20, 2013 @10:30AM (#43773217) Journal
    I wonder when it will become mainstream for our vaccinations to be based in part on nanotechnology to further the delivery and the effectiveness of vaccinations and our ability to stimulate our immune system towards fighting these diseases.
  • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday May 20, 2013 @10:37AM (#43773287) Journal
    Couldn't they just give the safe one first and the older, more effective one a few months later? And if not, why not just do the weaker one yearly? I think an elegant solution for a lot of these weaker vaccines is to simply do them yearly, around the same time you get your flu shot. Other than further aggravating the Jenny McCarthys of the world, I think this would be a fine solution.
    • "You said it worked for life, now you're saying it only works for a year? What, were you lying before, and you don't know what you're talking about, or are you lying now, and you just want my money on a yearly basis?"

      It doesn't matter how elegant the solution is if nobody accepts the solution. Public trust in vaccines could take a huge hit with your proposed plan - you'd need one hell of a PR campaign to get people to accept it.

      • That's simple enough, just offer a significant tax break for people who elect to maintain their vaccines. The conspiracy theorists will still scream their heads off while everyone else says "$250 tax credit? Shoot me up!"

        Of course this makes the neocon/libertarian baby Jesus cry, nevermind the fact that we'll all save money (and lives) in the long run.
        • Let me tweak that idea for you a bit. Despite the childish selfishness of many of their ideas, a few of the memes the right wing is shopping are essentially correct.

          Their "government shouldn't pick winners" mantra is well supported by the entirety of US history; what the government should be doing in the marketplace is identifying losers. Penalizing bad behavior that would otherwise be rewarded by a free market is one of government's primary functions - for example, murder-for-hire would be incredibly pro

          • As you say, it's mathematically the same. Which one you find more philosophically appealing is less important that which one is easier for the public to swallow. I think incentives are easier to pass than penalties, but I could be mistaken.
        • I like the essence of your plan - give some tangible benefit in exchange for vaccination. But the specific has a problem. The tax credit is not enough to overcome the anti-vaxxer fear that they're actually hurting their child, and not useful to the living-off-the-grid crowd (they're not filing returns anyhow). Maybe a free solar panel per person per 5years, on proof of maintained vaccines for 5 years? I know the money could be turned into solar panels, but you might entice a few off the grid people. Th

    • And if not, why not just do the weaker one yearly?

      Ho ho! I smell a lucrative reoccurring contract here!

      "Not had your Whooping Cough jab this year? INSURANCE PREMIUM UP 2000%. Yes, I know the price of the vaccine increases 20% per year, and we have a significant stake in the company... What's your point?"

    • Some people are needle-phobic, and will refuse an injection for anything less than death, severe pain, debilitation, etc.. Some people think the time and expense is a waste. In recent years, only enough influenza doses have been manufactured for about 45% of the United States population, so a majority doesn't use them. I don't, and probably never will.

      The safe version for the very young and stronger version for healthy older children is a reasonable approach. Lifetime immunity achieved in youth should be th

  • Nothing like vaccine stories to get the loonies going, is there?

    • by longk (2637033)

      That's bothering you because you didn't have your loonie shot. Now, THAT's loonie!

  • Prosiner's dilemma (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Monday May 20, 2013 @11:05AM (#43773505) Homepage Journal

    Do you get your children vaccinated?

    It's much more likely that your child will have a bad reaction to the vaccine than to actually get the disease. And if everyone *else* gets vaccinated, there's no need for any specific child to take that risk. That's the dilemma facing parents nowadays - from their individual viewpoint, there's a higher risk from the vaccination than there is from the disease.

    Taking polio (about 30 years ago) as an example, the chance of getting polio from the vaccine was about 1 in 750,000. Polio became largely non-existent in the US during the later years of the vaccination program, so individually it's easy to see why parents might not want to take the risk.

    And yet if everyone makes the best choice for their personal welfare, polio runs rampant in the country with 35,000 cases per year.

    This is a variant of the Prisoner's dilemma, where if everyone does what's in their immediate best interest then everyone suffers needlessly.

    We must accept the fact that sometimes we forced to take risks, and sometimes those risks will go badly. The risks are structured such that by taking the forced risk we are lowering everyone's total risk, and in the case of diseases, lowering it to a point where eventually no one will have to take the risk in the future.

    • It's much more likely that your child will have a bad reaction to the vaccine than to actually get the disease.

      What bad reaction? What likelyhood? Which vaccine? Don't assume this dichotomy because as far as I'm aware, in 99% of the cases it simply doesn't exist. What little side effects there are are nothing you would concern yourself with, certainly not compared the consequences of getting the disease in question.

      from their individual viewpoint, there's a higher risk from the vaccination than there is from the disease

      A viewpoint established by misinformation and mass hysteria. That's not meant as an insult - these people are being misled by pernicious echo chamber of plausible sounding myths.

    • Childbirth (Score:2, Interesting)

      We must accept the fact that sometimes we forced to take risks, and sometimes those risks will go badly.

      Tell that to runwaway juries making OB-GYN a no-go zone. American mothers have now become convinced (mostly be daytime TV, I'll warrant) that there should be an absolute, 100% guarantee that absolutely nothing will ever go wrong during the birth of their above-average snowflake. If not, here come the ambulance chasers taking in ~80% of the millions in lawsuit damages, doing nothing but increasing the an

  • First off, let's get this out of the way. "Conspiracy Theory" is ultmately a mistrust in the systems we are required to live in. Especially lately, many of the things people have been label "conspiracy nut" over have come to light as either likely or simply the truth. This can be especially marked by the general non-acceptance of the Boston Bombing story. People just aren't believing any longer.

    Now, the thing about vaccines is that it's supposed to be an inert version of a virus which is introduced to t

    • by EvilSS (557649)
      First off, the difference in the vaccines is that the old vaccine was a "whole cell" vaccine. Pertussis is caused by a bacteria, not a virus. The old vaccine used a dead but whole version of the bacterial cells. The new one is an acellular vaccine; one made up of protein fragments from the pertussis bacteria cell wall. That is the big difference and it turns out the whole cell vaccine was more effective.

      As for the comment about allowing studies on the link between autism and vaccines: there were plenty o
    • First of all, studies have been done. LOTS of studies. NONE found ANY link between vaccines and autism. Of course, the "vaccines cause autism" crowd either ignore these studies and continue claiming none have been done or change their explanation about how vaccines cause autism and then declare that no studies have checked on this. The latter approach is moving the goal posts and there is no arguing against that. Not that it's a valid argument, but that no matter how often you debunk the argument, they

  • by KYPackrat (52094) on Monday May 20, 2013 @11:17AM (#43773609)

    For any parent, guardian, or patient to make an informed decision, we have to have two pieces of information: how well a medicine generally works, and what risks there are to take it. Number One Son does this with several medicines: Colcrys controls the symptoms of his Familial Mediteranian Fever, at the risk of messing with his liver. He takes the flu shot because of the risk to the 1 and a half lung he has left are higher than the risks of the vaccine itself.

    A vaccine that doesn't work, or doesn't work well, means that vaccinated patients are accepting the vaccine risk for no significant reward.

    I am not anti-vaccine, I am just against unneeded risk. My kids got a round of the Salk vaccine, because the Sabin vaccine might wear out. We also did the chicken pox vaccine, to try to prevent shingles later in life (both families have had extreme shingles outbreaks later in life). OTOH, my daughter will NOT get the cervical cancer vaccine, because HPV is preventable in behavior and the real side-effect rate to the vaccine is a lot higher than the manufacturer is reporting.

    My own anecdote is that the reporting on pertussis is off by at least half to two-thirds. Little Miss fought a persistent cough (with antibiotics) for weeks until her allergist said "oh, you have whooping cough. You sound exactly like I did last week." There was no use testing her, because she'd been on antibiotics. Milady and I both caught it from her. The nurse ruined my test by doing it wrong, and Milady's doctor flat-out wouldn't test her (she just got antibiotics, because she was #3 in the house to catch it). The scuttlebutt in the health profession was that the Health Department was desperately trying to keep their numbers down, by hook or by crook.

    With my kids' various lung-related issues, they needed a vaccine that actually helps prevent whooping cough. The current one isn't it.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      HPV is preventable in behavior? Pray tell, how? LOL.

    • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:26PM (#43774239) Homepage Journal

      OTOH, my daughter will NOT get the cervical cancer vaccine, because HPV is preventable in behavior and the real side-effect rate to the vaccine is a lot higher than the manufacturer is reporting.

      Hate to say this, but going by teen pregnancy studies parents who make statements like this are the one's who's kids are most at risk.

      Also, what sort of creditable study do you have that the risks are higher than what the manufacturer claims? If so, wouldn't the CDC be shutting them down?

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      because HPV is preventable in behavior

      Right, which is why states with abstinence-only sex ed have the highest incidence of teen pregnancy...

    • by Guppy (12314)

      OTOH, my daughter will NOT get the cervical cancer vaccine, because HPV is preventable in behavior

      On the plus side for her, even if she contracts the virus the most likely outcome is that she will eventually clear it, as most infected individuals do. The risk for cervical cancer arises from the collision of a rather rare outcome with a extremely common exposure; nearly all sexually active adults will unknowingly carry HPV at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, the combination results in some 12,000 cases of cervical cancer per year, in the US.

      The original research that identified the HPV-Cancer l

  • IT is only so natural that having a large of the population poor and without conditions to pay a minimum standard of living, that many old diseases will make a comeback. It has nothing to do with the effectiveness of vaccines.
    • by Reziac (43301) *

      What we now call "poor" is what was called "middle class" or even "well off" a couple generations ago.

      See http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/understanding-poverty-in-the-united-states-surprising-facts-about-americas-poor [heritage.org]

      • by ruir (2709173)
        Are they less poor for having more electric outlets, or "owning" a home and a car? I bet many of those commodities are bought using credit. For me poor is living paycheck to paycheck counting the money
        • by Reziac (43301) *

          The point is, when the media cries "poverty", the average person doesn't think "car, house, microwave, satellite TV, computer, nice things of various sorts-see list" which are now more the norm than not. The average person thinks "falling-down tenement with leaky roof and no electric or plumbing and infested with rats and cockroaches" and the tenant-farmer shacks of the 1920s.

          Even given the hand-to-mouth financial aspect, there's a difference in mindset between being poor, and having no money. Give $5 to a

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 20, 2013 @11:50AM (#43773901) Homepage

    OK, so this vaccine needs a booster every decade or so. Lots of vaccines are like that. The vaccines against tetanus and hepatitis A and B all need to be re-administered every few years. No big deal.

    • OK, so this vaccine needs a booster every decade or so. Lots of vaccines are like that. The vaccines against tetanus and hepatitis A and B all need to be re-administered every few years. No big deal.

      Which is pretty much the same as diseases. You don't get AIDS from a single instance of a virus. You get it from thousands of them invading the body all at once.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday May 20, 2013 @12:07PM (#43774041) Homepage Journal
    This article [earthlink.net] talks about how in England there has been a huge increase in the number of measles cases since Wakefield published his claptrap about vaccines causing autism and other nonsense.

    For those not bothering to read the article, this is part which you need to know:

    This year, the U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.
    • I agree that the ,uanti-vaccine argument is claptrap. However, I also wonder what percentage of the increase in measles has been due to immigrants from countries where measles still exists. Due to the way Germany set up the EU 'borders,' England, Greece and Italy end up with far more immigrants than Germany does. Read Fortress Europe.

      There are probably some more accuracies we can derive using statistics between Germany and the lesser European countries ;-)

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