Category: Vaccines

Dr. Andy Wakefield photographed at home in Austin, Texas. Wakefield is a physician best known for his controversial work on autism.  (Photo by David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Pathological Optimist: More hagiography than documentary about Andrew Wakefield

The Pathological Optimist is a recently released documentary by Miranda Bailey about Andrew Wakefield that I got a chance to see. In interviews and in the film's promotional materials, Bailey takes great pains to emphasize that she "doesn't take a side" about Wakefield. Unfortunately, her film demonstrates that, when it comes to pseudoscience, "not taking a side" is taking a side, and...

/ October 9, 2017
H1N1 influenza vaccine vials

Flu Shots: Here We Go Again!

The many myths about flu shots continue to circulate and persuade some people not to get a flu shot. Flu shots are excellent insurance, safe and reasonably effective. Immunization protects not only the recipient but also vulnerable groups in the community.

/ September 19, 2017
Flu vaccine

The influenza vaccine and miscarriages: Much ado about nothing

A study published on Wednesday claims to have found a link between influenza vaccination and miscarriage, and antivaxers are gloating. The study itself suffers mightily from post hoc subgroup analyses on small numbers, so much so that even its authors don’t really believe its results. None of that stopped them from publishing the study, thus justifying "more research" that will almost certainly...

/ September 15, 2017
SIDS

No, a Vaccine Court ruling does not show that vaccines cause SIDS

There was a rumbling in the antivaccine underground over the weekend about a recent ruling by the Vaccine Court compensating parents of a child who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In a confused and scientifically highly flawed decision, the Special Master Thomas Gowen didn't rule that vaccines cause SIDS, but did rule that they contributed to SIDS in this one...

/ August 21, 2017
CDC Headquarters

Trump’s new CDC Director is very pro-vaccine, but was she also at one time a quack?

On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price announced the appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald to head the CDC. Reassuringly, her record as Georgia Public Health Commissioner was pro-vaccine and relatively non-ideological. Not so reassuringly, a news report yesterday found that before entering public service she was peddling anti-aging quackery at her private practice. Where will her balance fall now...

/ July 10, 2017
Laughing face

Fun with Spanish Flu Myths

There are many myths about the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Some of them are pretty funny.

/ June 20, 2017
If you were to believe antivaxers, you'd think that they're doing Cersei's walk of atonement (complete with a priestess chanting, "Shame! Shame! Shame!") every day. But is this true?

Does society try to shame and shun vaccine refusers and the vaccine-averse?

Antivaxers often complain that they are judged harshly, even shunned. A recent study suggests that, to some extent, they might well be. But are judging, shaming, and shunning parents who refuse to vaccinate their children wrong? More importantly, what about the children, who didn’t choose not to be vaccinated, and how likely is such stigmatization to change behavior?

/ June 12, 2017
Graph of measles incidence by year in the United States.  Note the sharp drop in the mid-60s when two measles vaccines were introduced.

Minnesota Measles

There is currently an outbreak of measles in the Somali population of Minnesota – an outbreak that can be directly linked to antivaccine propaganda.

/ June 7, 2017
A thousand points of pseudo-medicine.

Corrigendum. The Week in Review for 05/28/2017.

More measles in Minnesota. Yet another form of acupuncture: Snafu. CAM cancer studies are of poor quality. The future of CAM is LSD.

/ May 28, 2017
Artist’s impression of a CAM star and its victim.

Corrigendum. The Week in Review for 05/21/2017

Choosing CAM leads to bad outcomes the world over. How deep can an acupuncture needle go? Measles continues and Minnesotans and will be welcomed in Texas. Rat rectal stimulation for Science. And more.

/ May 22, 2017